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Porsche Not Planning to Raise Stake in VW: Report

Reuters
Sunday, 29 Jul 2007 | 4:24 PM ET

German sports car maker Porscheis not currently considering raising its 31 percent stake in Volkswagenonce a law capping voting rights is repealed, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.

"That question is not being raised as yet," Chairman Wolfgang Porsche told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, when asked whether the company would increase its control of Europe's largest carmaker once the European Court of Justice strikes down the VW Law, a move expected later this summer.

The federal law guarantees special rights for the German state of Lower Saxony, where VW's headquarters in Wolfsburg are located, as a shareholder as well as preventing any one individual investor from exercising more than 20 percent of their voting rights.

Wolfgang Porsche did not deny that the Porsche and Piech families who control the sports car maker were immune to the idea of controlling VW itself, effectively founded in 1937 by Beetle designer and family patriarch Ferdinand Porsche.

"The thought is not unappealing, that's true," said the chairman, who along with Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech counts Ferdinand Porsche as his grandfather.

Speculation Of Takeover

Speculation over a potential takeover bid for Volkswagen has been rife since Porsche said in November it would raise its VW stake and was looking for authorization to increase its capital by half. In March, Porsche offered to buy out investors' shares in VW, but at a price that was intentionally designed to fail, since all management wanted to do was cross the 30 percent threshold.

Now, with 31 percent of VW voting rights held, the sports car maker can raise its stake in VW as far as 50 percent without informing the market of its actions, nor is it required to launch another mandatory takeover bid for VW.

Analysts say Porsche could increase its holding in VW further if its role as dominant shareholder was threatened.

"We have secured a few options so that we can raise our stake in VW further if needed," Porsche Chief Financial Officer Holger Haerter told the FT Deutschland in an interview published on Friday. "We are thus prepared for anything."

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