Tech investor Christian Angermayer maintains a network of business and politics – including ministers. He sent Peter Altmaier information about his companies for years. Jens Spahn and Chancellor Advisor Jörg Kukies were guests at his events. Some contacts raise questions.
By Thomas Steinman
A few years ago, Christian Angermayer was already a big hit among New York’s financial elite. At that time, the euro crisis was raging in Europe, the markets were highly nervous, and many investors from Manhattan also had billions in the fire. During this time, the US investment bank Bank of America Merrill Lynch offered large hedge funds and other important clients an exchange with a special interlocutor from Germany: Angermayer. The then mid-thirties, who was considered an investment star at home, was sometimes praised by the bank as “Advisor to Chancellor Merkel” – as someone who is very close to the decisions in Berlin that can move billions.
Already at this time, Angermayer was boasting about his contacts and supposedly exclusive insights into politics, say financial managers who have seen him at rounds and read his emails with information about German politics. In fact, Angermayer usually didn’t deliver much more than the newspaper said, although he was happy to present it as “confidential”. The most concrete were exit polls in state elections – forecasts that are already circulating in the media and parties in Berlin on election days in the afternoon. In the dispute over Grexit, for example, state elections in Germany were also considered potentially price-sensitive.
That was more than ten years ago. Since then, Angermayer’s financial conglomerate ABL, which he founded in 1999 with two partners, has collapsed. Research by “Stern” in 2014 revealed how he sometimes used his political networks for his business. At that time, the CDU MP Philipp Missfelder served as a key person. The foreign politician, who has since died, opened Angermayer doors into politics and helped with access to party celebrities, which he also used for his own interests.
But today Angermayer is not only big in business again as an entrepreneur. His billion-dollar empire, which is controlled by his Malteser family office Apeiron Investment Group, includes investments in companies from numerous sectors: raw materials, space travel, crypto, pharmaceuticals. Many of them are listed, such as the Bitcoin mining company Northern Data, the IT security specialist Cyan – and most notably the magic mushroom holding company Atai Life Science, headquartered in the Netherlands, which produces psychedelic substances for medical devices to combat depression and other diseases and went public on the Nasdaq in mid-2021.
In an investor presentation at the end of 2019, Angermayer boasted that he had raised more than 1.5 billion euros in investor funds for his portfolio companies over a period of 20 years. He was also involved in more than 40 IPOs and M&A deals.
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Angermayer’s business network and business partners also include international top shots such as the controversial US tech investor Peter Thiel and the crypto billionaire Mike Novogratz. In 2019, he also brokered the participation of the Japanese Softbank group in the payment service provider Wirecard via a convertible bond – for a consulting fee of 11.25 million euros, as shown by internal emails from Wirecard.
At the start of the process
The who’s who in the Wirecard scandal: who is in the dock and who is investigating
Angermayer also maintained personal contacts with Wirecard bosses Markus Braun and Jan Marsalek before the fraud group collapsed in mid-2020. For example, in emails to Marsalek obtained by Capital, he solicited investments in his Swiss biotech platform Rejuveron, which develops drugs that can slow or even reverse aging, and in one of his crypto companies. “I would be very happy if you came on board,” Angermayer wrote in October 2019 to the ex-Wirecard board member who is now being sought by Interpol. The crypto company BlockOne is “my coolest and most promising company next to Atai (the Magic Mushroom Company).” It is unclear whether Marsalek took the bait and actually invested.
But the gifted networker’s connections to the top echelons of Berlin politics do not seem to have suffered to this day. In a recent response from the federal government to a small question from Left-wing MP Christian Görke about contacts between federal ministers and various investors, numerous contacts from Angermayer are also listed.
For years, the entrepreneur had particularly good connections to the Federal Ministry of Economics – similar to the Austrian real estate investor René Benko, who, as the owner of the Karstadt department stores and later also Galeria Kaufhof, decides on many thousands of jobs and the image of many inner cities in Germany and in the Corona -Crisis personally negotiated state aid several times, as can also be seen from the government response.
Angermayer bombarded the then Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) with e-mails in which he often sent information about his company or, in individual cases, requests. The tech entrepreneur left unanswered questions from Capital about his political contacts. The Ministry of Economics did not answer any questions either.
With Peter Thiel and Jens Spahn in the Chancellery
As early as May 2012, during the euro crisis, Angermayer and the then Economics Minister Philipp Rösler (FDP) held talks with the investor George Soros. Topic according to the government response, which was previously available to Capital: “Europe, hedge funds”. In August 2012, Angermayer attended a meeting held between Rösler and international financial investors on the development of the euro. Also present: a representative from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the investment bank that Angermayer introduced to its clients at the time as “Advisor to Chancellor Merkel”.
In June 2016, the then head of the Chancellery, Altmaier, received Angermayer and the US tech investor Thiel in the Federal Chancellery. Jens Spahn (CDU) also took part in the conversation with the co-founder of Paypal and the security company Palantir Thiel, who is also known today as Donald Trump’s major donor and influential string puller among the US Republicans, on the subject of “Germany as a location for innovation and investment”. , then Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Spahn is still part of Angermayer’s network today. Last summer, the ex-minister of health in Saint Tropez took part in a panel at an event organized by his Aurora Institute, which works for mental health – together with Austria’s former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP), who now also works for Angermayer’s business partner Thiel . The cloudy topic: “The political landscape in Europe and the US – source of happiness or depression?” In other rounds, representatives of Angermayer’s portfolio companies spoke, and at a gala Robbie Williams spoke openly about psychological problems – a range from business and pop to politics that is typical for the investor.
This fits in with the exchange that Angermayer maintained with Sigmar Gabriel at times when he was Economics Minister. In the government response, four telephone calls between the investor and the SPD politician are stated for the period between March and November 2017, plus a meeting in October 2017. It remains unclear what these contacts were about. There is no information about this in the answer. Apparently Gabriel’s conversations were not filed. The Ministry of Economics did not want to comment on a specific request. The answer to the small inquiry will be published shortly, “we cannot anticipate that,” said a ministry spokesman.
Angermayer also communicated intensively with Altmaier after he had moved to the head of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 2018. The federal government’s list contains 22 direct emails from the investor to the then Minister Altmaier between February 2019 and July 2021. The topics varied: initially he sent an invitation to the . One of his guests in 2020: Marsalek. Another time he invited Altmaier to his summer party, once he referred him to an interview with his business partner Peter Thiel.
In the spring of 2020, the focus was more often on the Corona crisis. Angermayer sent an e-mail with “personal comments on general economic policy and Covid 19 measures”, and another one was about Corona policy. The investor also repeatedly provided information on current developments at his company. In six emails to Altmaier alone, the topic was his magic mushroom company Atai: Angermayer sent company presentations, provided information about financing rounds and finally about the Atai IPO in New York in summer 2021.
“Stalking” or support for investments?
Some of these emails to Altmaier, according to the meager information provided by the federal government on the respective topics, appear as if the then Economics Minister belonged to one of those mailing lists through which Angermayer regularly updates his network about his business, praises investment opportunities or invites to events. Others specifically addressed the minister: In November 2019 he asked Altmaier about his office for a “short meeting”. In early 2020, he personally sent him two emails “accompanying a letter” from his portfolio company Mynaric, a space laser start-up whose investors included Thiel.
In the course of 2020, Mynaric clashed with the federal government: In the summer, the federal government banned the export of communication terminals for space use to China because it classified them as dual-user goods that can also be used militarily. The technology, in which data is transmitted by laser, can also be used in fighter jets or drones. After the export stop, the now listed company from near Munich withdrew from China and sued the federal government.
It is unclear whether Angermayer’s personal intervention with Altmaier was related to this issue. The Ministry of Economics did not comment on this on request, nor did Angermayer. There was also no answer to repeated inquiries as to whether all emails and requests from the investor remained unanswered by the ministry – in any case, Altmaier’s reaction is not listed in the federal government’s list.
However, the government’s response is also incomplete in another case: An appointment by today’s State Secretary in the Chancellery, Jörg Kukies (SPD), at the “Angermayer Policy & Innovation Forum” in July 2022 is mentioned, at which ex-investment banker Kukies spoke via video conference about the situation after the G7 summit in Elmau. On the other hand, the current list does not include the participation of the close friend of Olaf Scholz, Kukies, in an Angermayer event in October 2021 –
For the financial expert Fabio De Masi, Angermayer’s contacts in the federal government raise questions: “I find it remarkable how Mr. Angermayer constantly bombarded Minister Altmaier with his investments in magic mushrooms and space communication systems and with his views on Corona,” said the former leftist -Members of the Bundestag. “I wonder: Was that stalking or did Mr. Altmaier signal support from the federal government for his investments?” This is also of interest because Angermayer engineered the Japanese Softbank’s “fatal deal” with Wirecard, De Masi added.
Softbank and Wirecard announced the investment in April 2019 via a convertible bond of around EUR 900 million. According to reports in the “Financial Times” about balance sheet manipulation, Wirecard was under massive pressure at the time – in this situation, the Softbank investment was seen as a vote of confidence. In June 2020, the scandal group collapsed.
First published by Capital.de