Kirch headed to court

Rewe case will go to trial April 27 in Munich

BERLIN — Bankrupt Teutonic TV/film group Kirch Media is set to take German retail giant and former shareholder Rewe to court over a e130 million ($163 million) dispute.

Kirch Media, the core division of the insolvent Kirch Group, was forced to pay Rewe for a $161 million loan it had given to fellow Kirch Group company Kirch Beteiligung to buy shares in Formula One motor racing in 2001.

However, Kirch Media’s insolvency management argues that because former parent Kirch Group was not creditworthy at the time, Rewe’s credit line should be considered a “shareholder investment” and not a loan; it therefore is demanding that Rewe repay the amount plus $2 million in interest. The Kirch Group collapsed in April 2002 under billions of dollars of debt.

Rewe has called Kirch Media’s request “totally unthinkable” and has rejected the demand.

The case will go to trial April 27 in a Munich state court.

Ironically, Kirch Media’s contention that the Kirch Group was not creditworthy in April 2001 contradicts claims by former topper Leo Kirch, who successfully argued in court last year that former Deutsche Bank CEO Rolf Breuer’s comments in February 2002 influenced Kirch Group creditors to cut off lines of credit, triggering its collapse two months later.

Leo Kirch now is seeking $7.5 billion in damages resulting from the financial collapse of the company.

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