Nordea, the €190bn (£135.6bn) Scandinavian fund manager, has become the first major investor to signal it is preparing to sue Volkswagen over the carmaker’s manipulation of emissions tests.
Nordea Asset Management told reporters over the weekend that it planned to join “several different class actions” against Volkswagen. The emissions fixing scandal has left investors with billions of euros of losses.
VW’s supervisory board is due to meet on Monday for the first time in a month, with the meeting chaired by new chief executive Matthias Müller, according to Reuters. The board includes a representative for the state of Lower Saxony, which holds a 20% stake in VW, as well as labour representatives and members of the founding Piëch and Porsche families. It is expected to assess the fallout from the deepening scandal.
VW’s share prices has plummeted almost 40% since the company admitted in mid-September to US regulators that it had installed software in 11m diesel vehicles which could cheat nitrogen oxide emissions tests.
A few days after the scandal broke, Stockholm-based Nordea banned its fund managers from making investments in VW for the next six months. It held half a million VW shares, worth more than €80m prior to the scandal, but has since offloaded the vast majority.
Sasja Beslik, head of responsible investments at Nordea Asset Management, told the Guardian: “As responsible investors we have the obligation to protect the interests of our beneficiaries and take measures that correspond with that responsibility.” He said no final decision had been taken on legal action.
The crisis widened dramatically last week when Porsche, owned by VW, became involved and VW admitted “irregularities” in the levels of carbon dioxide emitted by 800,000 cars sold mainly in Europe. This means that it could have to repay billions of pounds in tax to European governments.
Germany’s Bild am Sonntag reported that several VW engineers had admitted manipulating carbon dioxide emissions data because goals set by former chief executive Martin Winterkorn were hard to achieve.
Winterkorn declared at the Geneva auto show in March 2012 that VW would reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% by 2015. Engineers did not dare tell him that this would be difficult to achieve, according to Bild.
It reported that VW engineers manipulated tyre pressure and mixed diesel with motor oil to make cars use less fuel, a practice that began in 2013 and carried on until spring of this year.
Volkswagen’s UK sales fell by almost 10% after the emissions rigging scandal, according to industry figures, while other carmakers also posted steep declines. In south Korea, VW sales nearly halved in October from a year earlier.
This article was written by Julia Kollewe, for theguardian.com on Sunday 8th November 2015 18.36 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010