Syntellix AG: Dispute between celebrity investors: Utz Claassen loses against Carsten Maschmeyer in court
Munich As an entrepreneur, manager and investor, Utz Claassen is at the very top of the German economy, at least in terms of awareness. In autumn 2020, the former head of companies like Sartorius or EnBW even asked Ralph Guise-Rübe, President of the Hanover Regional Court, whether the German constitutional state was about to collapse: “Overburdened, overwhelmed, overrun” was the title of her book.
In the meantime, the 58-year-old could ask himself to what extent he is personally contributing to this overload. For years he has been fighting a legal war on multiple fronts against his former Hanoverian homeland friend Carsten Maschmeyer, who is now causing a sensation primarily as an investor in the start-up television show “Die Höhle der Löwen”.
Before the Regional Court of Munich I, however, Claassen has now suffered serious defeats in two of the proceedings he initiated: The claims for damages in the amount of more than six million euros were dismissed. This round in the alpha men’s arena fell to Maschmeyer.
It’s about internals and interests around the still small medical technology company Syntellix from Hanover, which has much bigger plans, such as an IPO in Singapore. The purpose of the business is to sell magnesium bone screws that will dissolve after the operation. Maschmeyer also once believed in these special screws and became a major shareholder of the Claassen-controlled company with more than 42 percent. But they fell out, Maschmeyer sold his shares at the end of 2016 to the then supervisory board chairman Claassen.
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Claassen saw the agreed “good conduct obligation” repeatedly violated in the period that followed. He criticized an alleged “marodization campaign” Maschmeyer. The Munich court, however, did not want to follow the rule of law expert in any way, as the judgment of Tuesday in the Syntellix case against Maschmeyer’s MM Familie KG makes clear.
“Prince Carnival” was permissible
For example, it is covered by the Basic Law that the Maschmeyer side alternately referred to the Syntellix maker Claassen and the board member Thomas Mayer as “Prince Carnival” – after the company organized both a capital increase itself and the Spanish second division soccer team Real at the time Mallorca provided 100,000 euros for sponsorship. Claassen was chairman of the board of the club.
The case of carnival is protected as an expression of opinion by Article five of the Basic Law, the judges state here, criticism may “also be pointed, polemical and exaggerated”. The image of the “Prince Carnival” refers to the customs especially in the Rhineland, “where the Carnival Prince very generously throws caramel candies and other sweets into the crowd standing at the roadside during parades”.
Such generosity with the use of scarce financial resources had been criticized by Maschmeyer’s lawyer as a shareholder representative – he had stated that the Real Mallorca sum in 2015 made up a fifth to a sixth of the total Syntellix annual turnover.
The Court argues in this spirit in many places. Football as a “hobby of the chairman of the supervisory board”? An oracle about its “state of the brain”? “Dirty shops” in Mallorca?
Everything covered by Article five of the Basic Law. Also, a criminal complaint against Claassen in the matter of Real Mallorca does not represent a breach of duty. In some of the press articles incriminated by Claassen, the judges saw an admissible reporting of suspicions. And to Maschmeyer’s interview statements, according to which there was disappointment, no trust and the feeling of having been betrayed, the verdict only says: “Permissible expression of opinion”.
On October 21, the Munich Regional Court I had already dismissed a claim for damages by Claassen and Syntellix, this time against Maschmeyer personally. It was about the fact that the shareholder who left the contract allegedly passed on internal contract information to “Focus Online” and the broadcaster NTV and claimed that Claassen had cheated on him and owed him a double-digit million amount – but could not pay, which could only end in personal bankruptcy.
Claassen strictly denies such allegations. On the one hand, the court does not see the business of Syntellix negatively affected, on the other hand, Maschmeyer did not make the objectionable statement at all.
Further proceedings are pending
In the ongoing dispute between the former companions from Hanover, the main focus will soon be on a trial in their hometown. It was dormant for a few months, possibly with a view to the legal disputes in Munich. Maschmeyer’s lawyer Christian Schertz found that the processes in the Bavarian capital had worked like a “diversionary maneuver”, which Claassen denies. There is not yet a specific date for the procedure in Hanover.
There Maschmeyers MM Familien KG fights before the regional court for claims from the share purchase agreement against Claassen. The accusation is that the Syntellix boss did not, contrary to what had been agreed, share in the profits from the resale of part of his old shares. At the beginning, four million euros are demanded in the step action, which could increase to 16 million euros, according to the Maschmeyer side. Classen has explained that these are “pipe dreams”.
Claassen wants to keep fighting despite the defeats in Munich. A Syntellix spokesman explains: “After an initial review, we consider the judgment to be factually and legally incorrect as well as grossly incorrect in law. In this respect, Syntellix AG will of course appeal. “
The company’s last press release was dated October. At that time, Syntellix in India received the license for five different product families, according to Claassen the “greatest and most important success in the company’s history”. The homepage states that its own “future-oriented and globally unique technology” will have made more patients happier again in 2021.
And a few days before Christmas, the company finally said goodbye with the wish that there would be “snowflakes, poinsettias, health and harmony” for everyone. In the relationship with Carsten Maschmeyer, there can be no question of that.
More: “It was clear to me that it would not end as a happy ending ”- Carsten Maschmeyer and his doctor on the low point of his career