Leo Kirch loses first lawsuit

Court rules no legal basis for the suit against Deutsche Bank

CANNES -- Bavarian mogul Leo Kirch has lost the first of two lawsuits against Deutsche Bank and its former CEO Rolf Breuer.

A Munich court on Tuesday ruled against Kirch in the smaller of the two suits, in which Kirch claimed comments made by Breuer in 2002 directly led to the collapse of 17 his media companies, including rights giant KirchMedia.

In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Breuer questioned Kirch's creditworthiness. At the time, Deutsche Bank was Kirch's largest creditor. Shortly thereafter, Kirch's other creditors called in their debts, forcing his KirchGroup conglomerate into bankruptcy.

The court said that, because Deutsche Bank did not have contracts with KirchGroup companies, there was no legal basis for the suit. Kirch's lawyer said he will appeal.

Still pending is a ruling on Kirch's much larger suit demanding €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) for the damages resulting from Breuer's loose lips. The court already has said Kirch is entitled to compensation but has yet to set a price tag -- something it is expected to do in May.
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