Porsche Headquarters Raided in Market-Manipulation Investigation

Porsche HQ

This spring when we were reporting on the convoluted attempts of Porsche to take over Volkswagen, I mentioned some of what I had written to the guy who works on my GTI. He told me, in effect, “You haven’t heard the half of it,” and went on to describe dark rumors of financial manipulation, derivative squeezes, and other things.

I didn’t pursue it or ask where he got his information. Just shooting the car-talk breeze, you know. Turns out, as we learn today, that Wendelin Wiedeking, former Porsche CEO, and Chief Financial Officer Holger Haerter are part of an investigation of alleged insider trading and market manipulation. Officials raided the company’s Stuttgart headquarters (above) this morning, seizing documents. Imagine this kind of uproar in a firm of such echt-Deutsch rectitude. Why it’s like a Swiss bank turning over its depositors’ names to the IRS!

The irony of ironies, of course, is that Porsche itself is currently in the process of being gobbled up by VW, and the stock of both companies is taking a beating. Reports Bloomberg:

Volkswagen common shares extended their decline in the past six days to 36 percent [our emphasis] as Porsche SE exited the stock and short-sellers increase bets that losses may widen.

The ongoing Wiedeking story promises more twists and turns than the Nurburgring. We’ll keep you posted. Today the putative victor, VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, announced in an interview that Porsche would have to sell 150,000 units by 2012. How the hell are they gonna do that, you may ask, when the company now sells about 75,000 cars a year?

Good luck, Marty. Maybe you should ask Wendelin before he goes to jail—he did bring Porsche out of the doldrums in 1993 when he came aboard.

Give us your ideas about how Porsche will get to 150,000 units in three years.

—jgoods

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