The corresponding claims were rejected by the competent 5. Civil chamber off, as the presiding judge stefan puhle said. The shares of the porsche holding company PSE posted strong price gains. VW group CEO martin winterkorn did not want to comment on the decision in the near future. "But i am pleased, of course," he said.
A private investor and a swiss fund company had demanded compensation of 4.7 million euros from PSE and the frankfurt-based maple bank. In the first proceedings, the plaintiff ariel cukierman accused PSE of having misled him with press releases in march 2008 about the true intention of wanting to swallow the much coarser carmaker VW. As a result, he suffered losses because the price of VW’s common stock later rose sharply instead of falling as expected.
In this case, however, porsche could not be held liable "for intentional immoral damage," the court ruled – even if the company had already had a majority stake in VW in mind as a "long-term goal" in spring 2008. Moreover, such an accusation could hardly refer to PSE, because it was not the issuer of the VW shares, but traded in them. Moreover, there is "no direct connection between the alleged damage suffered by the plaintiff and any profits made" by PSE.
The court also distanced itself from the plaintiff’s argumentation in terms of content. The announcement that the supervisory board had given the go-ahead to increase the shareholding in volkswagen AG to over 50 percent was in line with the resolutions passed by PSE at the time. The fact that a merger had not been planned at that time, according to porsche’s statement, could not be regarded as a "grossly false" statement. In addition, the plaintiff had presumably not acted on the basis of the porsche press release, but on the basis of analysts’ assessments.
In the second dispute, the financial trader mycapital had also sharply criticized a later press release from october 2008. Until then, there had been indications that VW might turn the tables and take over porsche; porsche’s announcement to the contrary had then led to market distortions. In this case, however, the court also saw no connection to possible losses. On the contrary: on the day of the information itself, the plaintiff had bought and sold shares, orienting himself primarily to the price trend of the securities: "liability for intentional immoral damage is denied."
Porsche reacted with relief to the ruling, which could be an important landmark decision for further litigation. "The two rulings are a positive signal," a spokesman said. "In the further proceedings, some of which are of a different nature, we will defend our legal opinion with all due consistency."
The plaintiff’s attorney christoph von arnim, however, was dissatisfied with the ruling: "the fact that no immoral damage is assumed in such a case does not contribute to strengthening confidence in the integrity and functionality of the market."After reviewing the reasons, he will decide how to proceed further. Munich-based capital markets lawyer franz braun had already hinted at going to higher courts at the start of the trial at the end of june.
But even in braunschweig, the three big bumps in the road are still to come for porsche. Beyond the now dismissed lawsuits, investors accuse PSE in three additional cases. Here the claim amounts to over 4 billion euros. VW is also partly affected, and the proceedings are expected to start in spring 2013. PSE also has to defend itself against lawsuits in the USA, but considers them "inadmissible and unfounded. Criminal investigations are underway in stuttgart against members of the former porsche management.
Porsche AG, in which the operating business of the sports car manufacturer is bundled, has belonged to the VW group since 1 january 2009. August fully to the VW group. The wrangling over the installation of the remaining 50.1 percent was also due to the legal risks involved. You remain in PSE, the AG is unencumbered as a VW subsidiary. The complete purchase announced at the beginning of july kept the supervisory authorities busy. In a preliminary examination, however, the federal financial supervisory authority (bafin) found no evidence of an allegedly late announcement of the deal.