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BenQ administrator threatens to sue Siemens

Irregularities claimed

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Was BenQ Mobile insolvent in May 2006, long before it filed for liquidation? The company's insolvency administrator in Germany, Martin Prager, is preparing a multi-million euro lawsuit against Siemens in the belief that it was.

German paper Die Welt broke the news on Saturday, but initially a spokeswoman for the insolvency administrator declined to comment. Today Prager confirmed the story to Sueddeutsche Zeitung after talks with Siemens ended without agreement.

Prager claims to have found irregularities in the transfer of operations of Siemens' mobile phone division to BenQ, and that the assets of the division might have been wrongly assessed.

Prager had already sued BenQ for compensation to the tune of €100m, but this amount could easily climb to €500m.

Taiwanese BenQ took over Siemens' ailing mobile phone business in 2005. One year later, the unit filed for insolvency as the company failed to turn the tide against fierce competition from Nokia and Motorola. About 3,000 workers lost their jobs.

Computers, office furniture, building and other material assets were being sold off by a Hamburg auction house to be set against liabilities of $1.16bn.

Prager's actions are the latest batch of bad news for Siemens, which tomorrow will announce a four per cent headcount cut among its 435,000 employees, including 6,400 job losses in Germany alone.

Its joint venture with Fujitsu isn't looking too healthy either. Fujitsu Siemens today said it had a very difficult Q2, with computer and notebooks sales sliding dramatically. ®

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