(Adds VW comment in third paragraph)
FRANKFURT, March 8 A German court named
Frankfurt-based Deka Investment on Wednesday as lead plaintiff
for 1,470 damages claims against Volkswagen
totalling 1.9 billion euros ($2 bln) over its diesel emissions
The plaintiffs say they lost money on a drop of almost a
quarter in Volkswagen's share price when it admitted cheating
U.S. diesel-emissions tests in September 2015. They say
Volkswagen should have warned the market earlier of the risk.
A spokesman for Volkswagen, which says it informed the
market in good time of its diesel issues, said the move changed
nothing in its legal position.
The claims represent just a fifth of the total value of the
investor cases pending at the Braunschweig higher regional court
and a small fraction of the legal headaches that Volkswagen
faces worldwide from investors, consumers and regulators.
The claims are being gathered in Germany's closest
equivalent to a class-action case, in which one case is picked
as representative and the outcome applied to all the others.
In all, around 1,540 investor cases are pending at the court
with a total claims volume of 8.8 billion euros. A court
spokesman said most of the other claims were from foreign
Other existing plaintiffs can apply to join the test case
proceedings for the next six months but new plaintiffs cannot
come forward to join. The court said it would set a date for a
first hearing within the next three months.
Chancellor Angela Merkel told a German parliamentary
committee of inquiry on Wednesday that she first learned of the
diesel emissions scandal through the media in September 2015.
Opposition parties wanted the parliamentary committee, set
up in July 2016, to investigate the government's response to the
scandal because they said Berlin had been too lax in its
treatment of the car industry.
($1 = 0.9473 euros)
(Reporting by Sabine Wollrab and Jan Schwartz; Writing by
Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Keith Weir)