SAP co-founder's charitable arm made investments in a joint venture with the software giant

Foundation is 'passive investor' alongside private equity firm Dediq, firm says


SAP chairman Hasso Plattner's charitable foundation has said it invested in a joint venture between private equity firm Dediq and SAP designed to develop technology for the financial services market.

The Hasso Plattner Foundation's website says it "directly and exclusively pursues charitable purposes" and was established by the billionaire SAP founder as an independent, not-for-profit organisation in 2015.

However, questions have been raised about the transparency of its investment in an alliance with Dediq, a German investment focused on providing funding for entrepreneurs, and the enterprise software giant.

In April, SAP announced that it was forming a joint venture with Dediq, which it called the Financial Services Industry (FSI) Unit. At the time it said the partnership would create "solutions… based on SAP software… integrated into SAP's overall portfolio and product roadmap".

"Both SAP and Dediq will provide the FSI Unit with the funding, technology, and development expertise, as well as a broad ecosystem of partners necessary to rapidly establish it as a major force in the FSI IT market," the statement said at the time.

Dediq's investment in the unit was expected to be more than €500m while SAP would hold a 20 per cent stake.

This week, German news site Handelsblatt revealed that the Hasso Plattner Foundation had made investments in the JV alongside Dediq that were not disclosed at the time the joint venture was announced.

Plattner's private fortune of around $9bn helped establish the Hasso Plattner Foundation, while the SAP founder remains the software firm's biggest shareholder: with a 6 per cent stake in the $170bn market cap enterprise software company.

According to the Financial Times, Dediq has also invested in a consultancy aimed at SAP customers called ConVista. Co-investors in Dediq have included those with links to Plattner's daughters and associates, including an entity owned by Rouven Westphal, who heads Plattner's family office, publicly available documents reveal.

Dediq has said that Hasso Plattner Capital was its sole outside co-investor, according to a presentation, the pink'un said.

In a statement sent to The Reg, SAP said: "Dediq was chosen as a partner because of their long-term commitment to the joint business with SAP, their operational expertise in the area of financial services and of course their readiness to invest. They share SAP's vision of how we should best capture growth opportunities in the FSI area. SAP looked into various strategic options including with other third parties and conducted thorough market research before determining that Dediq was the best match for the new venture.

"It was clear to SAP that the Hasso Plattner Foundation is a passive investor behind Dediq, but neither Hasso Plattner nor Rouven Westphal are. Also, it was clear to SAP that the foundation supports with financials but neither has control or business involvement in Dediq. The foundation takes its own investment decisions and all of the foundation's yields are directed exclusively toward non-profit and charitable purposes. Hasso Plattner himself played no role in this deal," the statement added.

A spokesman for the Hasso Plattner Foundation told The Register SAP was always aware that it might be among the passive investors Dediq was winning for the new company.

"HPF does not disclose its investments nor does the family office, and there is no obligation to do so," the spokesman said. ®

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