Hedge Funds’ Fraud Lawsuit Against Porsche Tossed

Jan 3 2011 | 4:19am ET

A judge has thrown out an effort by a group of hedge funds to sue Porsche in the U.S.

The 10 hedge funds, led by Elliott Associates, had accused the luxury automaker of manipulating the market in Volkswagen shares, secretly acquiring a majority stake in its fellow car company before announcing plans to acquire VW. But even if Porsche had done so, the hedge funds can’t sue it in the U.S.

“Plaintiffs’s swaps were the functional equivalent of the underlying VW shares on a German exchange,” U.S. District Judge Harold Baer said. “The economic reality is that plaintiffs’ swap agreements are essentially ‘transactions conducted upon foreign exchanges and markets,’ and not ‘domestic transactions.’”

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Jim Sabella, a lawyer for one of the hedge funds, Black Diamond Capital Management, said. “While we disagree with Judge Baer, the real problem is Morrison, which is a disaster for investors.”

Sabella was referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year, Morrison v. National Australia Bank, which barred federal securities fraud lawsuits covering foreign securities traded abroad.

Baer dismissed the suit against Porsche, CEO Wendelin Wiedeking and deputy CEO Holger Härter with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again. The hedge funds, which claim to have lost $2 billion, can appeal the judge’s decision.

In addition to Elliott and Black Diamond, Glenhill Capital, Glenview Capital Partners and Perry Partners were among the hedge funds suing Porsche.

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