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Deutsche Bank moving closer to Kirch settlement: sources

A man walks past Deutsche Bank offices in London December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
A man walks past Deutsche Bank offices in London December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

BERLIN (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank is getting closer to settling a long-running lawsuit with the heirs of late media mogul Leo Kirch who blame Germany's biggest bank for the downfall of his business, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Kirch, who died in 2011, sought for years to recoup about 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in damages from Deutsche Bank and its former chairman Rolf Breuer who questioned the Kirch media group's creditworthiness in a 2002 television interview.

Deutsche Bank and its officers have denied that Breuer's comments triggered the collapse of the Kirch empire.

The benefits of a potential out-of-court settlement are being discussed at top level at Deutsche Bank, two sources familiar with the matter said. Supervisory board chairman Paul Achleitner is pushing to close the book on the Kirch dispute, one of the sources said.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

A settlement could also help avert legal charges against Deutsche Bank's current co-chief executive, Juergen Fitschen, German magazine Der Spiegel and daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported earlier on Saturday, without citing the source of the information.

Fitschen was named as a suspect in the dispute by Munich prosecutors last November who said they were investigating whether he gave misleading evidence in the suit.

The Kirch lawsuit, one of Germany's most bitter corporate disputes, led prosecutors to search Deutsche Bank offices in 2012.

Fitschen said in late January that the bank, which has already built provisions to cover an indemnity, is aiming to resolve major pending legal disputes this year.

(Reporting by Philipp Halstrick and Alexander Huebner; Writing by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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