Ex-Porsche chiefs acquitted of VW takeover bid manipulation
STUTTGARTMar 19, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Mar 19, 2016 12:00 am
Two former executives of Germany's Porsche were acquitted Friday, ending a trial in which they were accused of market manipulation ahead of the luxury carmaker's failed bid to take over Volkswagen (VW) in 2008.
Former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking and Porsche's then-Chief Financial Officer Holger Haerter were accused of making misleading statements about their company's intentions before moving to acquire a majority stake in Volkswagen. "The charges of the Stuttgart prosecution service held no water whatsoever," Frank Maurer, the leading judge in the case, said in court on Friday. Both men had denied the charges throughout the five-month trial. "We are happy that this chapter is finished," Wiedeking said, adding that the charges against him and his former colleague were "grotesque." The prosecution had been seeking jail terms of more than two years for both men.
Porsche announced its intention to take over three-quarters of VW in October 2008. Prosecutors said their statements in relation to the plan were "capable of affecting the domestic stock price of VW AG [Auto Group]." Porsche gave up the idea as its funding dried up amid the financial crisis and later became a subsidiary of the 12-brand Volkswagen Group.
The family-controlled Porsche parent company now owns 51 percent of Volkswagen Group, giving it tenuous control and far less than the outright takeover it had aimed for. The Porsche SE holding company welcomed Friday's ruling in a statement. "We were always of the opinion that the shareholding in Volkswagen AG was acquired in accordance with capital market regulations," said Manfred Doess, an executive board member responsible for legal matters.