Outlook: Court action is not the way to win a corporate war

THERE WE all were, hoping to see Goldman Smug have its nose properly rubbed in it and its fee-hungry ways exposed for all the world to see. Instead of which it was the poor old Germans who got it in the neck - again - while the world's most aggressive and successful investment bank came out smelling of roses - again. Is there no stopping these people?

Mannesmann seemed to have the Americans on the run in challenging Goldman's right to act for Vodafone so soon after it had been advising Mannesmann on its stake in Omnitel, and within weeks of giving a "fair value" assessment on Mannesmann's bid for Orange. The cheek of these investment banking boys. They take your money - and boy, do they take your money - then they turn round and act for the competition in bidding for you. How dare they?

The prospect of fees of 1 per cent and upwards of the world's biggest ever hostile takeover bid tells you all you need to know about the answer. Even in the investment banking village of Hampstead, that'll buy you quite a few mansions. In the circumstances, the ethical thing would perhaps have been to turn down these lottery winnings, but since when did investment banking have much to do with ethics? Soooo ... there we all were at the High Court of Justice in the Strand, hoping to see Goldman Sachs horse- whipped and thoroughly dragged through the mud.

All that nonsense about seeking always to maintain the highest ethical standards, recognising that a bank's principle asset is its reputation, which must be protected at all costs, was to be exposed for what it was - a load of pompous, marketing hogwash. Ah well, we can all dream, can't we? The Germans so messed up their case - nay, Fritz went so far as to give false and misleading evidence, according to Mr Justice Lightman - that its application to ban Goldman Sachs from acting became "completely hopeless" and it was Mannesmann that received the horse whipping, not the investment bankers. It was also Mannesmann, the fee-paying client, that emerged as the one without integrity. It is hard to imagine a more unlikely turnaround.

As it happens Mannesmann only has itself to blame for Mr Justice Lightman's strictures. Other than counsel and solicitors, no Mannesmann representative even bothered to show up in court. Counsel then dismissed the proceedings as "only one battle in a larger war" and explained Mannesmann's defective evidence by saying that the board had rather greater fish to fry and couldn't be expected to give the British courts its full attention. No wonder the judge saw red.

By rights Goldman Sachs should not be acting in this bid, but this is a moral, not a legal point. By running to law with such a feeble, concocted case, Mannesmann has succeeded only in making itself look foolish and untrustworthy. As such, it has also undermined any non-legal defence to Vodafone's bid.

Given that 60 per cent of Mannesmann's shares are held by foreigners, and that majority control therefore lies with those who are not part of Germany's stakeholder system of corporate partnership, this could prove rather serious.

Mannesmann should think twice before activating plans to open a second legal front in Germany - this for breach by Vodafone in mounting a hostile bid of joint venture agreements between the two companies. Mannesmann's Klaus Esser only acts against his shareholders' interests in seeking to prevent Vodafone from mounting a bid. He should be as good as his word, and fight the war on value grounds alone.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manchester, £18k

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manch...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HRO - £70k+ ote

£35000 - £450000 per annum + £3k car, £70k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: Do you want to...

Citifocus Ltd: Newly Qualified Accountants - Risk Mgmt

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious financial institution seeks to...

Citifocus Ltd: Operational Risk Analyst

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Experienced operational risk professional with ban...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?