The number 777 is currently electrifying Hertha BSC fans, it is the company name of an American investor who wants to take over the majority in the traditional club.

Will 777 be a better owner than Lars Windhorst, who wanted to make Hertha the "Big City Club" and invested 374 million euros?

Even in Rendsburg on the North-Ost-See-Canal people are talking about the business.

But it's not about football there, it's about their own existence, about the jobs at Nobiskrug.

Susanne Preuss

Business correspondent in Hamburg.

  • Follow I follow

The ships being built there are billionaire super-luxury yachts, with pools and helipads and submarines for private diving.

But at Nobiskrug, where they are built, the bare minimum is missing.

Even the welders practice improvising because no welding gas was supplied, they say.

Temporary workers are no longer seen because they were not paid, and external developers are said to have stopped working for the same reason.

No matter what the Hertha fans think of 777, the shipyard employees hope that the business will at least bring enough money into the coffers for Lars Windhorst to continue building the yacht.

The nervousness increases.

This week is payday for November and also for the Christmas bonus.

Many employees have already witnessed one or the other bankruptcy in the permanently crisis-ridden shipyard industry - and opaque machinations of the owners.

Lars Windhorst, who is said to be able to sell ice cream to penguins, was nevertheless received as a savior when he bought Nobiskrug out of bankruptcy last summer.

A year earlier he had already taken over the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG).

Above all, however, he himself belongs to the small circle of luxury yacht owners.

The 74 meter yacht "Global" was built in 2007 by market leader Lürssen.

The maintenance costs for Windhorst's yacht alone are estimated in relevant magazines at more than 11 million dollars a year.

Severe turbulence and personal bankruptcy

Outstanding debts of 10 to 12 million euros, which Nobiskrug is said to have accumulated in the meantime, do not keep a person like Windhorst from sleeping.

He leaves the details to those who are responsible for cash management and who should know where they can exhaust payment terms or sometimes overrun them.

In an interview with the FAZ, he made a commitment to the workforce: "The employees don't have to worry about their November salary.

Tennor regularly transfers the necessary sum at the end of the month.” Tennor is the holding company under which Windhorst has amassed a hodgepodge of companies, from medical robots to luxury fashion.

Tennor was apparently the paymaster for Windhorst's shipyards from the start: "With my companies, I've invested around 200 million euros in ongoing operations since taking over the two shipyards."

200 million euros for ongoing operations?

For two shipyards with a total of 650 employees?

Such information cannot be checked, but there is an explanation: Customers do not pay until their ship is ready.

“In shipbuilding, it is common for there to be bank guarantees or government or state guarantees for the customers of the ships.

This limits the risk of completion for customers, and they can make advance payments to the shipyard depending on the progress of construction," says Windhorst, explaining the principle that applies in the industry.

But it doesn't apply to him.