Court acquits ex-Porsche executives over VW bid

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BERLIN (AP) — A German court acquitted Friday former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking and his ex-finance chief of charges of market manipulation connected to the sports car maker's failed attempt to buy Volkswagen.

Prosecutors had accused Wiedeking and his chief financial officer, Holger Haerter, of making misleading statements about the company's intentions before it moved in 2008 to build up its stake in much larger Volkswagen AG. The takeover attempt continued until May 2009.

Both men had rejected the charges during the five-month trial at the Stuttgart regional court. Prosecutors had sought prison sentences of 2 ½ years for Wiedeking and 2 years and 3 months for Haerter.

"There is nothing to the accusations by Stuttgart prosecutors — nothing," presiding judge Frank Maurer said in delivering the verdict, news agency dpa reported.

In October 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis, Porsche said it controlled stock and share options that gave it 74 percent of Volkswagen. For a brief time, sellers caught in a squeeze pushed VW shares to as much as 1,005 euros (now worth $1,133) apiece, briefly making Volkswagen the most valuable company on the planet.

Porsche's takeover attempt failed as the company loaded itself with debt just as the global economy was entering its deepest recession since World War II.

Volkswagen eventually turned the tables and took over Porsche instead.