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Earlier this year, news broke that Volkswagen had plans to to do a full takeover of Porsche, which VW owned 49.9-percent of. But now the former CFO of Porsche, Holger Haerter, is one of three people being charged with fraud in Germany over Porsche’s intent to supposedly acquire VW.
According to investors, Porsche had denied throughout much of 2008 that it intended to purchase rival German automaker, Volkswagen. But in October, Porsche said that it controlled most of VW’s common stock, causing its shares to surge as short-sellers rushed to cover their positions. Porsche, of course, has denied the allegations.
The three are being charged with fraud over statements made when Porsche refinanced a $13.2-billion loan, understanding Porsche’s liquidity needs by over $1.8-billion if all purchase options Porsche held on Volkswagen had been exercised. In addition, it is reported that the managers withheld information about options tied to VW shares that Porsche had sold.
The portion of the probe that involves Wendelin Wiedeking and Holger Haerter manipulating the price of VW shares is still ongoing, and may not be resolved until the middle of this year. Last year, Stuttgart prosecutors stated that their probe against Wiedking and Harter had “solidified” suspicions that Porsche didn’t properly inform the market of their intentions to acquire VW between 2007-2009.
Porsche has been sued in the U.S. and Germany by short sellers of VW stock and other investors, claiming that Porsche secretly gathered up VW shares and ultimately caused the shareholders’ losses. There is a total of four suits pending out in Germany and the plaintiffs are seeking over $2.6-billion.
[Source: Automotive News]
Porsche Automobil Holding SE is the company that holds the 50.1% majority of Porsche AG, the manufacturing arm that actually builds the cars. But Volkswagen is looking to exercise an option that allows them to take over the other half, without going through Porsche SE first. As a result, Porsche is now scrambling to attract investors as an independent entity, while trying to avoid a potential merger.
“We cannot say with certainty which approach Porsche SE will take,” said Porsche finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch.
The original merger was scheduled for the end of 2011, but due to legal troubles there’s only a 50% chance of that still happening.
Porsche was once the last independent sports car manufacturer (next to, say, Morgan); can they foist off their potentially messy Volkswagen invasion?
[Source: Automotive News Europe]