May 23, 2024

Grifols Shares Plunge Over 40% on Fraud Allegations from Short Seller Gotham City

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Jan 10, 2024

Shares of Spanish pharmaceutical company Grifols lost over 40% of their value this week after short seller Gotham City Research published a damaging report accusing the company of financial fraud. The dramatic stock decline wiped out over $5 billion in market value and brought intensified scrutiny onto the billionaire Grifols family and their debt-laden empire.

Short Seller Gotham City Claims Grifols Hides True Debt Levels

On January 9th, 2024, previously little-known short selling firm Gotham City Research released a detailed 100-page report outlining supposed evidence of “massive financial irregularities” and potential fraud at Grifols [1]. The report alleged that Grifols uses off-balance-sheet joint ventures and complex financial engineering to hide its true debt levels and deteriorating financial position from investors.

Specifically, Gotham City claimed that Grifols has over $8 billion in undisclosed debt, putting its actual net debt to EBITDA leverage ratio above 10x rather than the reported 6x. This extreme level of leverage contradicts the image portrayed by management of a conservatively financed business. If true, it would imply Grifols is on the verge of financial distress and could face liquidity issues in the near future.

Gotham City also accused Grifols of manipulating EBITDA using one-time gains and questionable accounting surrounding its recent acquisitions. The report further criticized insider enrichment and lack of alignment with minority shareholders.

Grifols Share Price Crashes Over 40% in Record Rout

The market reacted swiftly and severely to Gotham City’s bombshell accusations. Grifols stock opened down 15% on Tuesday before crashing over 40% intraday, wiping out $5.3 billion in market cap in the largest single-day drop on record [2]. The plunge also dragged down Spanish stocks broadly while bonds sold off.

Trading in Grifols shares was temporarily halted amidst the intense volatility. The stock pared losses but still closed down 26% on nearly 30x average daily volume.

Grifols Vows Legal Action, Full Rebuttal at Investor Call

Grifols responded swiftly on Tuesday afternoon with a statement dismissing Gotham City’s report as “inaccurate and misleading”, containing “false and defamatory statements” [3]. The company completely denied claims of financial manipulation and stressed compliance with accounting standards.

Grifols further warned it “will exercise all legal actions at its disposal to defend the interest of its shareholders, clients, employees and other stakeholders” against short sellers looking to profit from share declines.

The company plans to host a conference call on January 12th to fully rebut Gotham City’s claims and restore investor trust, according to an exchange filing. Grifols highlighted its 30-year track record serving the plasma industry.

The Spanish market regulator CNMV also issued comments downplaying the likelihood of investigating Grifols’ accounts for now [4].

Billionaire Family Dynasty Faces Crisis at Flagship Grifols

The shocking developments represent a potential turning point for Grifols and the billionaire Grifols family which has controlled the company for decades [5].

Founded originally as a pharmacy in Barcelona in 1940 by Jose Antonio Grifols, the company grew into a leading producer of plasma-derived medicines under son Victor Grifols who still serves as Honorary President. Victor Grifols and his children control a near 51% voting stake despite owning only around 20% of total equity.

The current generation is led by CEO Raimon Grifols, grandson of the founder, who fans criticism for unusual executive power and compensation. Gotham City accused the family of self-enrichment through disproportionate salaries and large dividends funded by rising leverage.

If fraud accusations prove accurate, the fate of the controlling family in power for over 8 decades could be at risk. At minimum, leverage concerns and capped dividend payouts seem likely over the coming year.

Plasma Leader Faces Uncertain Future

Once a Wall Street darling and global leader in producing plasma proteins used to treat rare diseases, Grifols now faces a doubtful future given liquidity fears and lasting reputational damage with investors. Confidence looks shaken in the company many expected to continue consolidating the fragmented plasma market.

Grifols spent billions on a string of plasma acquisitions over the past decade, debt-funded deals now under the microscope. If unable to sustain this strategy, Grifols risks missing out as competitors pursue further industry consolidation.

Undoubtedly, the saga ruined the ambitions of Raimon Grifols to build the largest plasma company in the world. And Gotham City stands to profit handsomely from its bold short bet should shares continue to crumble.

While Grifols vigorously denies wrongdoing and promises vindication, the detailed and damning nature of fraud claims means doubts seem guaranteed to linger. The coming year looks pivotal in determining whether governance reforms allow Grifols to partially rebuild credibility under family control, or if the empire instead gets sold off piecemeal to repay ballooning debts.




AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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