Schickedanz’s $2.5 Billion Oppenheim Claim Put in Doubt by Judge

Madeleine Schickedanz, suing over losses on a 53 percent stake in Arcandor AG (ARO), was told by a German court to beef up her arguments if she hopes to win a 1.9 billion euro ($2.5 billion) claim against Sal. Oppenheim, its former shareholders and property financier Josef Esch.

Schickedanz hasn’t yet shown the bank was her financial adviser or that it gave her bad advice, Presiding Judge Stefan Singbartl said at a hearing in Cologne today. She has until the end of March to submit information to change the court’s view, Singbartl said.

Schickedanz bought shares in KarstadtQuelle AG, which became Arcandor, with a loan from Sal. Oppenheim and later added collateral for the credit. Her 53 percent stake in Arcandor was worth about 2 billion euros at the start of 2008. It had shrank to 240 million euros by that September, when regulators started probing the retailer’s disclosures and share-price moves. She then ceded her control of the company.

“I know what it means to buy shares and I know what it means to buy shares on credit,” said Singbartl. “A person like Ms. Schickedanz cannot claim she had no understanding what risks are involved in this.”

Stefan Homann, Schickedanz’s lawyer, said his client had the habit of blindly trusting advisers and signing what they proposed. He argued Sal. Oppenheim and Esch failed in their duties as her financial advisers because she had sought a conservative investment.

Sal. Oppenheim’s attorney, Carsten van de Sande, rejected the allegations.

Forbes in 2008 ranked Schickedanz 277th in the magazine’s list of the world’s richest people, estimating her fortune at 3.9 billion euros. By 2009, German newspaper Bild cited her as saying she lived on 600 euros a month, only occasionally having enough spare cash to afford a pizza at a local restaurant.

Arcandor, the former parent of Germany’s Karstadt department-store chain, filed for insolvency in June 2009. Sal. Oppenheim is now a unit of Deutsche Bank AG. (DBK)

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Cologne via kmatussek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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