German Police Raid Offices Of Former Premiere Boss Georg Kofler

Kofler has always denied manipulating subscriber numbers at German pay-TV group.

COLOGNE, Germany - German police on Wednesday raided offices belonging to Georg Kofler, the former CEO of German pay-TV group Premiere, now called Sky Deutschland. The raid was part of an ongoing investigation into suspected fraud and stock manipulation at Premiere in 2007, when Kofler ran the company.

German stock market authorities have accused Premiere of reporting 600,000 more subscribers than they actually had at the time. The figures, which claimed Premiere had more than 3 million subscribers, were reported just before Premiere carried out a capital increase. Since subscriber figures are one of the most important numbers used to judge the financial health of a pay-TV company, the high number likely boosted Premiere's stock price. Kofler sold his shares in Premiere before leaving the company.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. bought a controlling stake in the group, renaming it Sky Deutschland.  In 2009, after looking at the books, Sky reported that it had more than a million fewer subscribers than previously reported. Company stock nosedived, the authorities began their investigation and Premiere shareholders filed lawsuits against the company and Kofler.

Kolfer has always maintained his innocence, arguing that there are several legitimate ways to measure subscriber figures and that "Premiere, during my term there, was always correct in its reporting."

The investigation continues. Sky continues to lose money but has reported a steady increase in its subscriber numbers, which currently stand at 2.7 million.

 

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