Porsche to appeal Feb 29 court ruling on Ferdinand Piech’s duty violation

Article by Christian A., on March 5, 2012

Porsche SE has disclosed that it will appeal to the German Federal Supreme Court the ruling of the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court that stated Ferdinand Piech breached his obligation as a member of the vehicle manufacturer's supervisory board during its botched takeover bid for Volkswagen in 2009.

The Stuttgart court ruled that Piech was wrong to inform reporters at a 2009 event in Sardinia that he was not aware of the degree of the option risks that the automaker had built up in bidding to take over VW. Thus, the court ruled that Piech violated his duties as a member of the supervisory board Porsche Automobile Holding SE.

Moreover, the German court ruled that if Piech’s words were taken literally, the current chairman of VW would have committed “a grave violation of his duties as a supervisory board member,” which includes assessing important Porsche transactions.

Likewise, the court also ruled that Piech was wrong not to seek clarification about it. It said that he wouldn't have been allowed to consent to the transactions and “should have sought more information.” The court noted that if the transactions did not allow Piech to understand the trades, he should have acted against them.

A statement on Sunday has cited Piech, who is also chairman of VW, as saying that the Stuttgart court ruling did not precisely evaluate the background in which he made statements at an event in 2009 to reporters.

The case is one of the various disputes that arose from the unsuccessful Volkswagen takeover in 2009, which involved the use of options by Porsche to develop its stake. Porsche racked up in excess of 10 billion euros or $13.5 billion of debt in the process.

The decision was part of a ruling which voids votes by Porsche shareholders that releases Piech and the rest of the supervisory board from responsibility for the financial year ending in 2009, the court explained in a statement.

Piech further commented that he cannot see how he violated his duties even after studying the "OLG Court in Stuttgart's ruling." He said that in his opinion, the ruling "doesn't assess the situation accurately."

The court also ruled that the words of Piech's could also have been comprehended as a critical comment, as part of the controversy in the company at that time, disputing that the risk from the options was incalculable. In addition, his statement is also improper, as it would put the creditworthiness of Porsche in danger, according to the court.

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