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Deutsche Telekom Share Dispute Won’t End Before 2014, Judge Says

Deutsche Telekom AG’s dispute with thousands of investors over a share sale more than a decade ago won’t be resolved before 2014, a German top court judge said.

The Federal Court of Justice will take at least two years for the appeals procedures in the case that bundles suits by more than 16,000 shareholders, Presiding Judge Ulrich Wiechers said at a conference in Berlin today.

“My personal ambition is to resolve the appeals before I retire in 2014,” Wiechers said. The judges in the case won’t be able to make a start before the second half of 2013, once briefs between parties on appeals arguments are exchanged, he said.

The court will examine whether a Deutsche Telekom prospectus may have misled investors in connection with a 13 billion-euro ($16.8 billion) share sale in 2000. The shareholders, who mostly held small stakes, are seeking about 80 million euros in compensation. The Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt had dismissed the case in which Deutsche Telekom has denied any wrongdoing.

More than 16,000 investors, many of whom were buying shares for the first time, argued that they were misled because Deutsche Telekom’s sales prospectus contained dozens of mistakes. They claimed the company improperly reported the value of real estate and didn’t disclose in a timely way its intention to acquire U.S. phone operator VoiceStream in 2000.

The suit bundles shareholders’ claims under a special process known as a model case established in 2005 to help courts handle multiple investor actions. Individual suits were filed as early as 2002 and the model case, which later bundled them, started in 2008.

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