Porsche: Plaintiffs seeking more than 4 billion euros image

There are five suits pending at a court in Braunschweig, Germany against Porsche VW merger, with plaintiffs seeking a total of more than 4 billion euros in damages.

Investors are accusing the company of misleading them about plans to take control of Volkswagen in 2008.

While the plaintiffs have the full burden of proving wrongdoing, they have few tools, according to Thomas Moellers, civil law professor at Augsburg University.

“Different from the U.S., plaintiffs here have no pre- trial discovery, so they practically have no access to Porsche’s files,” Moellers said. “Only prosecutors have the weapons to seize papers, question witnesses and find out what actually happened.”

Porsche shareholders voted yesterday in favour of changes in the Stuttgart, Germany-based company’s charter as it closes in on finalising the sale of the Porsche car-making unit to VW.

VW abandoned the merger last September, citing unquantifiable legal risks, including lawsuits by short-sellers in the United States, who claim that Porsche secretly piled up VW shares and later caused investors to lose more than US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion).

As Porsche keeps shouldering about 1.5 billion euros of debt, the car makers are keen to join forces as soon as possible because they are wasting around 700 million euros a year on idle synergies in purchasing and development, VW has said.

“The integrated automotive group of Volkswagen and Porsche is a certainty,” Winterkorn said.