VW sees Porsche buyout clearing path to global leadership

Thu Jul 5, 2012 11:17am EDT
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By Andreas Cremer and Christiaan Hetzner

WOLFSBURG/FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) moved closer to its aim of becoming the world's top car maker by buying up the remaining half of Porsche in a deal that ends a protracted takeover struggle that sparked family feuds and investor lawsuits.

The deal will enable VW to escape a tax bill of 1.5 billion euros. It also allows VW to speed up Porsche's integration into a multi-brand empire that aims to sell 10 million vehicles a year to become the world's no. 1 by 2018.

"We're wrapping up one of the most significant projects in the automotive world," VW Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn told reporters at the group's Wolfsburg headquarters.

"Together we are more capable than ever of becoming the best auto company on the planet," he said, adding that VW was poised to invest "massively" in new shared technologies and production.

Joint projects already underway include Porsche's next model, the Macan compact SUV, due for a 2014 launch. VW also plans to begin assembling some Porsche models in its own plants.

VW, already a major player in emerging markets such as China, Russia and Latin America, will also need a bigger U.S. presence if it is to win and maintain the global crown.

Under CEO Winterkorn, VW last year opened a factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is adding an Audi plant in Mexico.

Shares in Europe's biggest automaker rose strongly on Thursday after it agreed to buy the remaining half of the sports-car maker for 4.46 billon euros ($5.9 billion), exercising options held since the purchase of its initial stake in 2009.   Continued...

The front of a VW bus is seen during the 29th annual "MaiKaeferTreffen" (May Beetle meeting) in Hanover, May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz