HAMBURG (dpa-AFX) - The alleged fraud of individual scrap suppliers is expected to burden copper group Aurubis with around 150 million euros. The announced extraordinary inventory of metal stocks has resulted in a shortfall worth 185 million euros, which will burden fiscal year 2022/23, which runs until the end of September, the MDax group announced in Hamburg on Tuesday. Insurance payments and a possible collection of perpetrator funds are expected to reduce the total by a further 30 million euros or so. Therefore, and in view of the economic development in the fourth fiscal quarter, Aurubis expects operating earnings before taxes of between 310 and 350 million euros in 2022/23.
Aurubis shares rose on the news and led the MDax in the early afternoon with a gain of almost 5 percent to 70.70 euros. "With the ad hoc announcement, the uncertainty is out for now and the chapter is closed for the capital market. The damage is not even a negative surprise," commented stock expert Frederik Altmann of Alpha Wertpapierhandel.
At the end of August, the Hamburg-based company had identified significant deviations in metal inventories from target inventories, as well as deviations in special samples of certain deliveries of input materials in the recycling sector. This is likely to be the result of further criminal acts beyond those disclosed in June 2023, it had been said. The state criminal investigation office had been called in. At the time, the group had also suspended its annual forecast of a pre-tax operating profit of 450 to 550 million euros. The shares had then slumped by almost a fifth to 62.50 euros, but had recently recovered a good deal.
Against the background of the new Aurubis forecast, Salzgitter AG is also expected to comment on its annual outlook in the near future. The steelmaker holds around 30 percent of the shares and had also suspended its annual profit target due to the Aurubis uncertainties.
In the meantime, according to Aurubis, it is "certain knowledge that deliveries and samples for input materials in the recycling sector with high contents of valuable metals were manipulated to the detriment of Aurubis." As a result, overcharged invoices had been paid, despite industry-standard safety standards. However, it was not yet possible to say which suppliers were affected. The company had called in the State Criminal Investigation Office, which is still investigating.
However, it could be ruled out that Aurubis customers and deliveries to them were affected by the fraud case, the statement continued.
In order to prevent the incident from happening again, Group CEO Roland Harings now wants to implement "process improvements and further security measures". Details could be provided on December 6 in the course of the publication of the annual figures.
As Aurubis had already emphasized recently, the financial damage will not affect the expansion plans. As has been known for some time, the Hamburg-based company plans to invest around € 1.1 billion in the USA, Bulgaria and Germany by 2026. The largest profit contribution of the current growth projects is then to be made by the recycling plant in Richmond (USA), where production is to start later in 2024. Scrap metal recycling is booming in the USA.
And battery recycling, which is becoming increasingly important in times of electromobility, is also moving into focus at Aurubis. The review is underway. However, a decision will probably only be made in the medium term./mis/knd/nas