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Porsche says new hedge fund suit unsubstantiated

Date: Thursday, March 17, 2011
Author: Maria Sheahan, Reuters

* Hedge funds file new lawsuit vs Porsche in NY state court

* Follows January's appeal to federal court's suit dismissal

* Traders say suit unlikely to scupper Porsche/VW merger

* Porsche shares up 0.2 pct, outperforming sector

FRANKFURT, March 16 (Reuters) - German sports car maker Porsche SE (PSHG_p.DE) rejected a fresh lawsuit filed against it by hedge funds in the United States.

Several New York hedge funds, including some that failed in a similar suit against Porsche last year, have filed a new lawsuit accusing the carmaker of causing more than $1 billion of losses by cornering the market in shares of Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE). [ID:nN15280232]

The new suit, filed by hedge funds including Greenlight Capital LP and Tiger Global LP in a New York state court, follows the December dismissal by a Manhattan federal judge of a similar $2 billion lawsuit that is currently being appealed. [ID:nN30119446] [ID:nN29123164]

"Porsche SE considers the complaint to be inadmissible and unsubstantiated," a spokesman for the automotive holding said on Wednesday.

There had been some concern in the past that legal issues could scupper a planned merger of Porsche and Volkswagen, but traders brushed off this latest suit, saying they did not see it as likely now that any hedge funds could throw the deal off course.

Porsche shares were 0.2 percent higher at 51.36 euros by 1400 GMT, outperforming the STOXX Europe 600 Automobiles & Parts index .SXAP, which was down 0.2 percent.

"There were a lot of them (lawsuits) -- why should it work this time?" a Frankfurt-based trader asked.

The hedge funds that filed the latest suit alleged they lost money through a "massive short squeeze of historic proportions" in October 2008.

They contended that Porsche quietly bought nearly all the freely traded ordinary shares of Volkswagen as part of a plan to take over the company, contrary to its public statements that it had no plans to do so.

When Porsche revealed its holdings, shares of VW soared, briefly making the company the world's biggest by market value. This caused losses for hedge funds that had bet on a decline in the stock price.

Greenlight is led by David Einhorn, who rose to prominence by making a prescient call on Lehman Brothers' (LEHMQ.PK) accounting problems before the Wall Street bank's September 2008 bankruptcy.

Tiger is overseen by Chase Coleman, a disciple of legendary hedge fund manager Julian Robertson.

Other plaintiffs in the case include Glenhill Capital LP, Glenview Capital Partners LP, Royal Capital Value Fund LP and various affiliates.