The shareholders of the VW umbrella company Porsche SE (PSE) have a bad hand in asserting claims for damages in the course of the diesel scandal. This emerges from a model decision by the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart published on Wednesday. The regional courts must now orientate themselves on him.
Basically, it was about allegations against the major Volkswagen shareholder to have informed too late about the emissions scandal and its uncovering by the US authorities in 2014 and 2015. The decision of the Higher Regional Court can still be challenged before the Federal Court of Justice.
At the time, VW CEO Martin Winterkorn was also CEO of PSE and Hans Dieter Pötsch was CFO at both companies. The Higher Regional Court ruled that it was not sufficient for the obligation to publish a stock market announcement if the dual board members only knew about the diesel scandal and its discovery because they were informed in their function as VW board members. Because in this case they were bound to secrecy. The dual board members could only have passed on the information if they had been released from the confidentiality obligation of Europe's largest carmaker.
PSE sees itself as a holding company
In addition, according to the opinion of the 20th civil senate, the VW parent company was not obliged to inform the capital market in June 2008 about the exhaust manipulation of VW diesel vehicles. The interrogation of the board members Wendelin Wiedeking and Holger Haerter, who were in office until the end of 2009, did not reveal any evidence that they had any knowledge of the illegal defeat devices.
The PSE considered the lawsuits to be "obviously unfounded" from the start. One is a holding company and not a car manufacturer. For this reason, they were not involved in the development, manufacture or sale of diesel engines that had become conspicuous. The holding company welcomed Wednesday's decision. The OLG has thus confirmed the opinion of Porsche SE, said a PSE spokesman
The plaintiffs, on the other hand, emphasized that - in ignorance of the diesel fraud - they paid too much money for their PSE shares years ago. Her reasoning: If VW and then the holding company had informed the markets about the scandal earlier, it would have depressed the share price earlier and they would have had to pay less for their shares.
The Higher Regional Court had declared a British fund as a model plaintiff, which asserted a claim of 5.7 million euros. In total, there are claims for damages of around 929 million euros.
Porsche SE had already won a stage in its legal disputes last September. At that time, investors in Celle suffered a sensitive defeat in a model case over the VW takeover battle in 2008. It was about damages of 5.4 billion euros plus interest.
Porsche SE CEO Pötsch recently said at the balance sheet press conference: "We consider all lawsuits against Porsche SE to be unfounded and in some cases inadmissible. We are therefore convinced that we will prevail in all pending proceedings."