Many investors in Germany and in the United States argue that Porsche SE masked its plans to acquire Volkswagen back in 2008, and according to Auto Fox, had been secretly increasing its stake in the company. Porsche SE is a German holding company headquartered in Zuffenhausen, a city district of Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg and is owned by the Porsche families. Porsche’s investments are in the automotive industry. As of the end of 2013, the 50.7% control interest in VW AG is the predominant investment by Porsche SE, and Volkswagen AG in turn controls brands and companies such as Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Škoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche AG, Ducati, VW Commercial Vehicles, Scania, MAN, as well as in Volkswagen Financial Services.
Porsche Automobil Holding SE, is fighting German lawsuits that are seeking a combined 5 billion euros ($6.9 billion), according to a report by Bloomberg News, which arose over the company’s aborted takeover of Volkswagen AG, and may score its second victory in the battle this year.
Presiding Judge Stefan Puhle said at the hearing that, “What Porsche did was maybe what we call slyness.” According to Bloomberg News Judge Puhle reported that, “But was it also so morally wrong that it leads to legal liability? Slyness is generally highly valued on the markets. It’s called cleverness.” The judge said his assessment is preliminary and may still change after deliberations.
Siegfried Elsing, HWO lawyer told the court that Porsche was still denying its intention to acquire VW long after it had made up its mind to attempt the takeover. In March 2008 Porsche SE dismissed talk that it intended to take over VW, but seven months later, according to Yahoo News, revealed it controlled 74.1 percent of VW’s common stock, just short of the 75 percent takeover threshold. The company won dismissal in March of a related 1.4 billion-euro action by 23 hedge funds in a Stuttgart court. It has been reported that, Stuttgart judges threw out criminal charges over the issue against former Porsche Chief Executive Officer Wendelin Wiedeking and ex-Chief Financial Officer Holger Haerter.
Judge Puhle has said that under German law, not every lie incurs liability beyond disclosure requirements, which are not applicable in this situation. Only a “gross” lie could lead to damage payments and only if potentially every righteous person can agree that the statement was vicious, which may be questionable, the judge has said. A Porsche spokesman said that according to Yahoo News, “The verdict confirms our view that lawsuits pending in Hanover and Braunschweig are equally unfounded.”
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