Deutsche Bank chairman denies Kirch conspiracy

By @ibtimes on

Deutsche Bank AG denied in court that it conspired to cause the collapse of German media mogul Leo Kirch's business empire that led to years of legal battles.

Kirch is seeking around 2 billion euros ($2.9 billion) in damages from the bank and its former Chairman Rolf Breuer, alleging Breuer triggered Kirch Group's downfall by questioning the creditworthiness of his media empire in a 2002 Bloomberg Television interview.

Deutsche Bank Chairman Clemens Boersig told the court on Thursday the bank's management board had not discussed Kirch's business in detail at a meeting held a few days before the interview.

That was a very marginal point, said Boersig, then-finance chief of Germany's biggest lender, adding that nobody who took part in the meeting had a strong interest in winning a mandate to help Kirch Group restructure if it failed.

Chief Executive Josef Ackermann is also due to testify later in the day.

The spat between Kirch and Deutsche Bank has dragged on for almost a decade and is one of the most bitter and drawn-out legal disputes in corporate Germany.

Breuer earlier this year told the court the statements he made in the interview were an accident.

Kirch, 84 years old and virtually blind, has launched lawsuits in the United States and in several different courts in Germany to recoup some of his losses, but he has had little success so far.

Kirch originally built his business importing films from Hollywood and overseas into Germany. It eventually spanned television broadcasting, Formula One rights and publishing.

(Reporting by Christian Kraemer; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by David Holmes)

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