Porsche argues U.S. is not the forum for suit by hedge funds
NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- Porsche SE is seeking to reverse a ruling in the United States that the company must face a lawsuit by hedge funds accusing it of hiding a plan to corner the market in Volkswagen shares.
Porsche on Thursday asked the New York State Supreme Court's Appellate Division in Manhattan to overturn Justice Charles Ramos's August decision rejecting its motion to dismiss the 2011 lawsuit by 26 hedge funds including David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital Inc.
The funds, which bet that Volkswagen stock would fall, claim Porsche misled investors by denying through much of 2008 that it intended to acquire Volkswagen and by using manipulative trades to hide its stock positions.
Robert Giuffra, an attorney for Porsche, told the appellate panel Thursday that the lawsuits don't belong in New York because "Germany has a far greater connection to the issues in this case than does the United States and New York."
Some of the plaintiffs have also sued the carmaker in Germany.
The lawsuits "challenge disclosures made in Germany by Porsche about its accumulation of shares of another German company traded in Germany," lawyers for Porsche said in an August court filing.
Porsche said on Oct. 26, 2008, that it controlled 74.1 percent of Volkswagen's common stock, partly through options, and was seeking an eventual takeover.
The disclosures caused the shares to surge as short-sellers raced to cover their positions.
Investors in Germany and the United States have claimed Porsche lied about its intentions to take over the larger carmaker.
The failed bid led Porsche to agree to sell its sports-car business to Volkswagen as debt soared.
That transaction was completed on Aug. 1, when VW purchased the remaining shares for 4.5 billion euros ($5.8 billion).
U.S. District Judge Harold Baer in New York in December 2010 dismissed a similar suit by two hedge funds, Black Diamond Offshore and Elliott Associates LP, representing a total of 39 U.S. and foreign-based funds.
In his opinion, Baer said he relied on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that fraud claims such as those in the lawsuits against Porsche apply only to securities listed on domestic exchanges and domestic transactions in other securities.
Baer said his ruling applies to other similar complaints against Porsche.
The funds appealed that ruling in January 2011, and subsequently filed suit in New York state court over the same allegations.
Porsche is also being sued in Europe over the issue. A court in Braunschweig, Germany, in September dismissed two cases, seeking less than 5 million euros combined.
Four more cases, asking for more than 4 billion euros combined, are still pending at that court.
Porsche is also battling at least four cases seeking about 31 million euros combined in a court in Stuttgart, Germany.
A Cayman Islands-based investment fund sued Porsche for $195 million in the United Kingdom in September.
German prosecutors are also investigating former CFO Holger Haerter and former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking on claims of market manipulation and breach of trust.
As part of the case, Haerter and another Porsche manager are currently standing trial on accusations they made false statements when refinancing a 10 billion euro loan in 2009.Contact Automotive News