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July 20, 2009

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Porsche saga seen to near end

PORSCHE SE's controlling families will agree on Thursday to accept an offer by Volkswagen AG to buy its sports car business, Porsche AG, for roughly 8 billion euros (US$11.28 billion), Der Spiegel magazine reported last Saturday.

Germany's leading weekly magazine wrote that the rival Porsche and Piech clans, which own 100 percent of Porsche SE votes, will approve the two-stage takeover at a supervisory board meeting.

VW would purchase a 49.9 percent stake in Porsche AG and at a later date acquire the rest, in a deal that would create an integrated automotive group with 10 brands under the leadership of the Wolfsburg-based car maker.

The sale would help Porsche SE pay off most of its debt, which two sources said had ballooned to more than 10 billion euros.

Der Spiegel also said embattled Porsche SE and Porsche AG Chief Executive Wendelin Wiedeking are negotiating over a severance package that could total more than 100 million euros. Meanwhile, production chief Michael Macht will replace him as Porsche AG's head, the magazine said.

Last Thursday, Wiedeking rejected talk he was about to leave the group.

Asked last Saturday whether the two families have reached a decision for Thursday's board meeting, Porsche spokesman Anton Hunger said "we have not been informed of one," adding that the Spiegel report was speculation.

Separately, rival German weekly magazine Focus reported that VW's chairman and part-owner of Porsche SE, Ferdinand Piech, plans to remove Wiedeking on Thursday from the influential six-man steering committee on the VW supervisory board.

The vacancy could open up the opportunity for Piech's cousin and rival, Wolfgang Porsche, VW supervisory board member and Porsche SE chairman, to replace Wiedeking in the committee as a representative of his side of the family.

Ferdinand Porsche, the grandfather of both Wolfgang Porsche and Ferdinand Piech, was the designer of the Beetle and founder of VW.


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