German court dismisses lawsuits against Porsche

BRAUNSCHWEIG, Germany Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:18am EDT

A visitor passes by a Porsche stand during the Moscow International Automobile Salon August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

A visitor passes by a Porsche stand during the Moscow International Automobile Salon August 31, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

BRAUNSCHWEIG, Germany (Reuters) - A German regional court stopped two investor lawsuits against Porsche SE (PSHG_p.DE), sending a discouraging signal to claimants still seeking just over 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) in damages in Germany.

Presiding judge Stefan Puhle read out the decision at the court in the northern German city of Braunschweig on Wednesday without giving reasons. The court is due to publish the reasoning for its decision at around 1100 CET (0900 GMT).

Some German and U.S. investors say that throughout 2008 Porsche camouflaged its plans to acquire VW and instead secretly piled up its holding. In March 2008, the sportscar maker dismissed as "speculation" talk that it intended to take over the much-bigger VW, which builds more cars in a week than Porsche does in a year.

Seven months later, Porsche said it controlled 42.6 percent of VW's common shares and held options for another 31.5 percent of the stock it had not disclosed previously.

Porsche's statement caused VW shares to surge to 1,005 euros within days, briefly making the Wolfsburg-based carmaker the world's most valuable company as short-sellers raced to buy back stock they had borrowed to bet that VW shares would drop.

Swiss investment company My Capital-MC and a German private investor, champions of the two failed lawsuits, had sought compensation for 4.7 million euros of losses from short-selling VW shares.

Porsche spokesman Albrecht Bamler welcomed the court's decision, saying the Stuttgart-based company would fight the three outstanding lawsuits "with all rigor."

Hearings of the pending cases, including one brought by Elliott Associates and other U.S. investment funds seeking 2 billion euros of damages, have yet to be scheduled.

Shares in Porsche turned positive after the ruling and were up 5.3 percent at 45.44 euros by 0704 GMT.

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by David Holmes)

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