Porsche SE expects to win investor lawsuits
LEIPZIG, Germany, April 30
LEIPZIG, Germany, April 30 (Reuters) - German holding company Porsche SE expects to succeed in its fight against legal claims seeking billions of euros in damages over the company's botched 2008-2009 takeover of Volkswagen .
"We are optimistic regarding the outcome of the proceedings," Martin Winterkorn, chief executive of Porsche SE and Volkswagen, said on Tuesday at the holding company's annual general meeting.
Planned hearings of three lawsuits pushing over 4 billion euros of damages stalled at a German court on April 17 after the presiding judge said a court specialising on cartel matters may need to be commissioned to handle the main 2 billion-euro case.
Two other lawsuits were postponed until Oct. 30 after the lawyer for the plaintiffs fell ill. That day, three more cases are due to be heard at the court in the northern German city of Braunschweig.
"We are taking a focused approach to the other legal dispute in order to guard Porsche SE against the alleged claims," Winterkorn said.
Some German and U.S. investors say that throughout 2008 Porsche SE camouflaged its plans to acquire much-bigger VW and instead secretly piled up its stake in Europe's largest automaker.
In March 2008 Porsche SE dismissed as "speculation" talk that it intended to take over VW. Seven months later Porsche SE 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. ($1 = 0.7634 euros) (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; editing by Harro ten Wolde)