STUTTGART: A German court today acquitted Wendelin Wiedeking, a former chief executive of Porsche, of alleged market manipulation in the course of one of the auto industry's most controversial takeover battles.
In 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, the Stuttgart-based sports car maker moved to acquire more shares in its much larger relation, Volkswagen, buying shares and options before revealing that it had a stake of 42.6 percent as well as call options relating to a further 31.5 percent.
Because the options were due for cash settlement, not physical delivery of the shares, they were not subject to the same shareholding disclosure rules.
However, Wiedeking was subsequently accused of misleading the market about his intention to control Volkswagen as it only announced its intention to increase its direct stake to over 50 percent after disclosing the options position, which had sent VW's share price soaring to briefly make it the world's most valuable company.
Porsche executives maintained they had not sought outright control as early as some investors allege.
Stuttgart regional court Judge Frank Maurer on Friday said the court had come to a clear result in the case and a conviction would not have been "rationally justifiable".
"The board had no secret plan," he said.
Porsche was forced to abandon the takeover campaign in 2009 as the financial crisis caused creditors to close in on its mounting debts, forcing it ultimately to seek a rescue from VW, which subsequently bought Porsche's core carmaking business