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VW Increases Scania Stake, Aiming for Alliance with MAN

Volkswagen said Wednesday it has increased its holdings in Swedish truckmaker Scania to more than 35% of the voting rights, in an attempt to pave the way for a friendly alliance with German rival MAN.

Volkswagen is the largest shareholder in both MAN and Scania, and has repeatedly said it wants a friendly merger between the two, following MAN's failed hostile takeover bid for the Swedish truckmaker.

Volkswagen said it upped its Scania holdings from 18.7% to 20.03 of the company, which represents 35.3% of the voting rights.

Under Swedish law, that is above the threshold for having to make a mandatory takeover bid, but Volkswagen said it has been granted an exemption from that rule by the Swedish Securities Council.

The company said its increased stake should be "adequate for finding a friendly and mutually agreeable solution to realize the acknowledged high synergies" of a merger.

Scania did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Anton Weinmann, the chief executive of MAN's commercial vehicle unit, said a tie-up now seems inevitable.

"It's only a matter of time until the merger comes about," MAN chief Anton Weinmann said in Munich, adding that how long it takes depends on Volkswagen.

MAN withdrew a hostile 10.3 billion euro ($13.493 billion) bid for Scania in January after Volkswagen objected to the move, preferring to pursue a friendly linkup.

The two companies are expected to hold talks later this year about an alliance, but no date has been announced.