Deutsche Telekom Wins Dismissal of $791 Million Data Suit

Deutsche Telekom AG won dismissal of a lawsuit by the founders of Telegate AG seeking 612 million euros ($791 million) over claims the phone company overcharged for directory data.

Klaus Harisch and Peter Wuensch can’t claim compensation, the Cologne Regional Court ruled today. They had argued that the value of their Telegate shares had declined because Deutsche Telekom had overcharged for the data. The court also rejected a separate lawsuit by Telegate seeking 86 million euros over similar claims. Telegate shares fell as much as 8.8 percent.

Deutsche Telekom has defended lawsuits for almost a decade by directory-service providers who said they were being charged too much for the services and data that Germany’s former phone monopoly was required by law to provide. The country’s top civil court last year backed two lower court rulings requiring Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom to pay back a combined 97.2 million euros in overcharged fees and legal costs.

Telegate, based in Munich, said in a statement that it would appeal the ruling that applied to the company. Georg Jochum, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, declined to immediately comment.

The Cologne court’s press office declined to give reasons for the judges’ ruling.

Telegate shares fell 6.2 percent to 9.10 euros at the close of trading in Frankfurt.

At a hearing in the case in November, Presiding Judge Rainer Hahn said the court had already doubted the claims because the two men are seeking damages that would have been incurred by the company, and not them individually.

Telegate, majority owned by Italy’s Seat Pagine Gialle SpA and based in Munich, had argued that Deutsche Telekom’s overcharging curbed profits. Harisch and Wuensch had said they had to sell their stakes for a lower value because of Deutsche Telekom’s practice.

Today’s cases are LG Koeln, 87 O 7/06 and 87 O 8/06.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.