BERLIN — Germany’s highest court has paved the way for Deutsche Bank to appeal a lower court ruling holding the bank and its former CEO Rolf Breuer liable for the insolvency of media tycoon Leo Kirch.
Kirch could be in for a setback if the federal Supreme Court decides to hear the case.
In December 2003, a Munich court ruled that Breuer had violated his duty of client confidentiality in a 2002 interview with Bloomberg TV in which he made disparaging comments about the creditworthiness of Kirch’s vast media empire.
Banks refused to extend Kirch’s credit line following Breuer’s comments, and KirchMedia, the main pillar of the Kirch Group, filed for insolvency in April 2002.
In its ruling last year, the Munich court ordered Deutsche Bank to pay an as-yet-unspecified amount of compensation to Kirch and refused Deutsche Bank the right to appeal that ruling.
If the Supreme Court rejects Deutsche Bank’s challenge, the lower court ruling will stand and another trial will be scheduled to determine the amount of damages Deutsche Bank must pay.
Kirch is seeking billions from the loss of his company, which controlled roughly half of Germany’s commercial TV market through its ProSiebenSat 1 broadcasting group. That company was picked up by Haim Saban following Kirch’s disintegration.
A ruling in favor of Deutsche Bank could dash Kirch’s hopes of recovering his lost fortune in Germany.
The Munich mogul also is going after Deutsche Bank in U.S. courts for allegedly conspiring with John Malone’s Liberty Media to destroy his company in an attempt to gain control of Germany’s lucrative cable market.