In the course of their operating activities, Volkswagen AG and the companies in which it is directly or indirectly invested become involved in legal disputes and official proceedings in Germany and internationally. In particular, such proceedings may occur in relation to suppliers, dealers, customers, employees, or investors. For the companies involved, these may result in payment or other obligations. Above all in cases where US customers in particular assert claims for vehicle defects individually or by way of a class action, highly cost-intensive measures may have to be taken and substantial compensation or punitive damages paid. Corresponding risks also result from US patent infringement proceedings.
Where transparent and economically viable, adequate insurance cover is taken out for these risks and appropriate provisions recognized for the remaining identifiable risks. The Company does not believe, therefore, that these risks will have a sustained effect on the economic position of the Group. However, as some risks cannot be assessed or can only be assessed to a limited extent, the possibility of loss or damage not being covered by the insured amounts and provisions cannot be ruled out.
ARFB Anlegerschutz UG (haftungsbeschränkt), Berlin, brought an action against Porsche Automobil Holding SE, Stuttgart, and Volkswagen AG for claims for damages allegedly assigned to it in the amount of approximately €1.8 billion. The plaintiff asserts that these claims are based on alleged breaches by the defendants of legislation to protect the capital markets in connection with Porsche’s acquisition of Volkswagen shares in 2008. In various cases since 2010, investors initiated conciliation proceedings for other alleged damages – including claims against Volkswagen AG – that amounted to approximately €4.6 billion in total and also related to transactions at that time. In each case, Volkswagen rejected the claims asserted and refused to participate in any conciliation proceedings.
In 2011, the European Commission opened antitrust proceedings against European truck manufacturers including MAN and Scania. In November 2014, the European Commission sent a statement of objections to MAN, Scania and the other truck manufacturers concerned, in which it informed the truck manufacturers of the objections raised against them and gave them the right to comment extensively on the objections raised and to exercise other rights of defense before any decision is reached. The statement of objections is currently being reviewed. Given the fact that the issues are still being clarified, it is too early to judge whether the European Commission’s investigation will result in financial liabilities for MAN and Scania and, if so, to assess their amount. As a consequence, neither MAN nor Scania have recognized provisions or disclosed contingent liabilities.
Antitrust proceedings, also opened in 2011, by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) against several truck manufacturers including MAN and Scania were brought to a close in fiscal year 2013 with decisions to impose administrative fines on all manufacturers involved. In spring 2014, MAN and Scania lodged an appeal against the decision to impose an administrative fine on each of them.
The Annual General Meeting of MAN SE approved the conclusion of a control and profit and loss transfer agreement between MAN SE and Truck & Bus GmbH, a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, in June 2013. In July 2013, award proceedings were instituted to review the appropriateness of the cash settlement set out in the agreement in accordance with section 305 of the Aktiengesetz (AktG – German Stock Corporation Act) and the cash compensation in accordance with section 304 of the AktG. It is not uncommon for noncontrolling interest shareholders to institute such proceedings. Volkswagen continues to maintain that the results of the valuation are correct. The appropriateness of the valuation was confirmed by the audit firms engaged by the parties and by the court-appointed auditor of the agreement.
Suzuki Motor Corporation has filed an action against Volkswagen AG at a London court of arbitration for retransfer of the 19.9% interest held in Suzuki, and for damages. Volkswagen considers the claims to be unfounded and has itself filed counterclaims. The court of arbitration is expected to reach a decision in the first half of 2015.