Porsche SE faces further lawsuit over VW takeover plan
BERLIN (Reuters) -- Porsche SE, the former owner of German carmaker Porsche, has received a fresh lawsuit linked to its 2008 attempt to take over Volkswagen Group in the form of a 213 million euro ($275 million) claim from the family of a deceased industrialist.
The action from HWO, a firm connected to the family of Adolf Merckle, has been brought at a court in Braunschweig, northern Germany, where Porsche SE already faces damage claims exceeding 4 billion euros from investor lawsuits over the same issue.
Plaintiffs have accused Porsche SE of camouflaging its VW takeover plans in 2008 and secretly piling up a holding in the automaker. When Porsche SE disclosed its stake in October 2008, VW common shares surged to 1,005 euros within days, briefly making VW the world's most valuable company as short-sellers such as Merckle raced to buy back stock they had borrowed to bet that VW shares would drop.
"We consider this to be unfounded and we will defend ourselves," a spokesman for Porsche SE said on Thursday, confirming the lawsuit had been received. German magazine WirtschaftsWoche reported the HWO suit on Thursday.
In January, the Merckle family confirmed it would seek damages from Porsche SE via conciliation proceedings, but the holding company declined to pay, according to the Porsche SE spokesman.
Billionaire Adolf Merckle committed suicide in January 2009 while his business empire, including stakes in HeidelbergCement and drug wholesaler Phoenix Pharmahandel, crumbled following bets on VW, increasing debt and a drop in the value of HeidelbergCement stock.
The Braunschweig court dismissed two minor lawsuits against Porsche SE on Sept. 19, sending a discouraging signal to claimants including Elliott Associates and other U.S. investment funds seeking damages.
In August, Volkswagen Group turned the tables on Porsche SE when it finalized the purchase of the Porsche auto business for 4.49 billion euros ($5.52 billion) and one common share. Porsche is now the 12th brand in the group's portfolio.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this reportContact Automotive News