(Bloomberg) -- Tycoon Cevdet Caner will take a stake in Aggregate Holdings SA, once Adler Group SA’s largest shareholder, and become its new chief executive officer.

It’s a surprise move adding a twist to the tumultuous recent history of the real estate investment firm that’s been mired in controversy following an attack from short-seller Viceroy Research in October.

“While the decision to appoint Cevdet Caner as CEO is a recognition of his tremendous contribution in the past, it is more importantly a testament of our future plan,” Austrian businessman Guenther Walcher, until now the sole owner of Aggregate, said in a statement Monday.

Aggregate didn’t disclose the amount paid for the stake. 

“I am excited to lead the planning and implementation of the next stage of Aggregate’s strategy,” Caner said in the statement. 

The real estate investment firm is also setting up an advisory board consisting of Michael Cohrs, who headed Deutsche Bank AG’s investment bank with Anshu Jain before retiring in 2010, and Luciano Gabriel, Chairman at real estate firm PSP Swiss Property.

Qualming Concerns

Aggregate is seeking to qualm concerns over allegations brought forward by short-seller Viceroy, run by Fraser Perring, which accused Adler and its largest investor of systemic fraud, inflated values and undisclosed related-party deals that benefited Caner and people close to him at the expense of outside shareholders. Caner’s family members also own stakes in Adler. 

A Controversial Tycoon Sits on Adler’s $9 Billion Pile of Debt 

While Adler and Caner have strongly denied the allegations, the scathing report sent shock waves across German real estate and the web of inter-connected companies around the landlord. 

The company lost a 20% stake in Adler which it had pledged as collateral for a loan, and has sold stakes in other real estate companies, including Corestate Capital Holding AG and S Immo AG. It’s also seeking to refinance the bonds of a key development project in Portugal with Oaktree Capital Management.

Aggregate’s bonds are trading at about 35% of face value.

A KPMG report commissioned by Adler to refute short-seller allegations that Caner was the firm’s undercover boss -- and used his influence for the benefit of his friends and family -- showed him setting up meetings, weighing in on pay and berating executives. The auditor also found Caner’s brother-in-law involved in at least one transaction with Adler. 

 

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