Arun Sudhaman 06 Dec 2013 // 5:00PM GMT
MUNICH—The three former heads of Bite's German agency have hit back at parent firm Next 15 over claims of financial irregularities at the business.
Stefan Ehgartner, Carsten Bickhoff and Juergen Rast previously led the two firms that Bite acquired in Germany: Trademark PR and Trademark Consulting.
After selling the businesses in 2011, the trio led Bite Germany until their contracts were terminated in April of this year, after talks regarding an amicable exit agreement broke down.
Last month, Next 15 CEO Tim Dyson attributed a charge of almost £2m to "failings in due diligence" regarding the German acquisition, which saw the value of its assets in the country written down to zero.
Dyson said that the finances of the German company were "a mess", and blamed "process and control" issues for an overall decline in global profits at the group, from £5.9m to £2.09m.
Ehgartner, Bickhoff and Rast, however, denied that they had made inaccurate representations to Next 15.
"It is absolutely wrong," said the trio. "They had full access to the books and they had independent auditors. Nobody forced them to do [the acquisition]."
The trio also said that they are currently bringing legal action against Bite in relation to the termination of their employment. "It's ridiculous to say we are the bad guys," they said in a joint statement. "When we left at end of April, we handed over a very profitable, stable business."
In response, Bite released a statement noting that they are currently "defending legal action brought by Stefan Ehgartner and Juergen Rast, former MDs of Bite Munich (formerly Trademark PR and Consulting), in relation to the termination of their employment and do not want to prejudice that legal action."
The firm added that it "stands by its decision to terminate" both MDs. "The year-end external audit conducted by BDO uncovered a number of financial and accounting irregularities which resulted in significant liabilities being identified as described in the Next 15 annual report."