Porsche SE, a holding company which formerly owns carmaker Porsche AG, is facing a new lawsuit in relation to its 2008 failed attempt to take over Volkswagen Group. HWO, a company connected to the family of deceased industrialist and billionaire Adolf Merckle, has launched a EUR213 million ($275 million) claim against Porsche SE at a court in Braunschweig, Germany, where the company is also facing damage claims of more than EUR4 billion from investor lawsuits over the same issue. Plaintiffs have alleged that Porsche SE concealed its VW takeover plans in 2008, and discreetly piled up a stake in the automaker. When Porsche SE divulged its stake in October 2008, VW common shares soared to EUR1,005 within days, briefly making VW the most valuable company in the world as short-sellers such as Merckle scrambled to buy back borrowed shares on a bet that VW shares would drop.
A spokesman for Porsche SE confirmed that the company has received the lawsuit, remarking that it was unfounded and the group will defend itself. In January 2012, the Merckle family confirmed it would seek damages from Porsche SE via conciliation proceedings. A Porsche SE spokesman said the company declined to pay for the damages sought by HWO.
Merckle committed suicide in January 2009 while his business realm, which included stakes in HeidelbergCement and Phoenix Pharmahandel, collapsed following bets on VW, increasing debt and a drop in the value of HeidelbergCement stock. On September 19, 2012, the Braunschweig court dismissed two minor lawsuits against Porsche SE, discouraging claimants 9which include Elliott Associates and other U.S. investment funds seeking damages).