Kirch, Deutsche Bank fail to agree deal

TV mogul seeks $4.1 billion in compensation

BERLIN — Negotiators for Leo Kirch and Deutsche Bank said on Wednesday they were unable to reach a settlement in the multibillion-dollar dispute over compensation in connection with the 2002 collapse of the Kirch media empire.

Germany’s highest court ruled in 2006 that Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest bank, must in principle pay unspecified damages to Kirch, 83, because of comments made by its former chief exec, Rolf Breuer, that caused the collapse of Kirch’s media empire.

After years of lawsuits over the amount of compensation, Deutsche Bank and Kirch agreed last September to follow a request by a Munich court to go to arbitration.

Kirch is seeking more than €3 billion ($4.1 billion) in compensation for the loss of assets, which were taken over by creditor banks following the dissolution of his Kirch Group.

Germany’s highest court had ruled that Breuer violated client confidentiality for casting doubt on Kirch’s creditworthiness while his company was struggling with massive debt. That sparked the fall of his vast Kirch Group as panicked lenders refused to grant further credit, resulting in what was then Germany’s biggest financial collapse.

“We were and are interested in an appropriate and fair resolution,” a Deutsche Bank spokesman said, but added it was now clear that Kirch was never interested in that.

“The Kirch side went into the talks with an open mind and willingness to compromise,” a Kirch spokesman said.

No new arbitration date has been set, according to the Munich court spokesman, who declined to provide further details.

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