Ruling hits Philips

Dutch Supreme Court orders company to turn over docs

AMSTERDAM — Dutch electronics firm Philips, after a six-year legal fight, has been ordered by the Dutch Supreme Court to turn over sensitive internal company documents related to charges that Philips deliberately deceived its stockholders about the company’s financial health.

The charges were made in 1991 by the Dutch Assn. of Stockholders (VEB), which has been seeking the documents since that time. VEB alleges that Philips told shareholders they could expect a large increase in profits at a meeting on April 10, 1990, then one month later announced disastrous losses.

The VEB shareholders who bought stock based on the earlier positive forecast lost millions on what they have claimed was a deliberate deception on the part of Philips.

Philips had claimed the documents contained sensitive competitive information but the Dutch Supreme Court on Nov. 7 turned down Philips’ last appeal against the VEB motion.

VEB is expected to proceed with a class action suit against Philips if the internal documents demonstrate wrongdoing on the part of company management.

Earlier, Philips settled a similar with American shareholders for $9.2 million.

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