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Qatar to buy up Porsche's options for 25% of shares of Volkswagen

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Porsche owners said to agree to Qatar buy-in at carmaker
13 June 2009
STUTTGART - A majority of owners of automotive group Porsche have agreed to the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) taking one quarter of the voting shares in the German sports car maker, news reports said Saturday.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung was to appear Sunday with a report that emir Hamad al-Thani’s stock unit would obtain at least 25 per cent of Porsche, where all the voting shares have previously been held by the Porsche and Piech families.

It said the details of the purchase, to take place by way of a new equity issue, were being thrashed out Saturday and Sunday. No comment was available from Porsche on the newspaper’s account.

The news magazine Der Spiegel reported that a “firm majority” within the families approved, overruling Ferdinand Piech, who is also chairman of the Volkswagen supervisory board and has advocated absorption of Porsche into the VW Group.

Der Spiegel said Piech’s personal shareholding in Porsche was not sufficient to block the takeover, and his brother, Hans Michel Piech, was on the side of the rest of the Porsche family on the issue.

Sources told the German Press Agency dpa that a takeover agreement in principle might be in place by the end of this month.

Porsche regards Qatar as a white knight rescuing it from Volkswagen. At the same time, it is hoping to obtain a loan from the German federal bank KfW to ease the enormous burden of its debts from an ill-fated attempt to take over Volkswagen.

Another news magazine, Focus, said the application to KfW for a loan faced resolute opposition from both Germany’s finance and economics ministers, Peer Steinbrueck and Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

The war between Porsche and Volkswagen has a political dimension, with each firm broadly backed by its local political leaders.

The premier of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, suggested in a newspaper interview Saturday that both companies back off and end the sparring over who would have the upper hand in a merger.

“We’d agree if Porsche’s attempt to take over Volkswagen were undone. We’d have nothing against both companies remaining completely separate, with Arab investors putting their money into Porsche,” Wulff told told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

The only Porsche shares traded on stock markets are non-voting preference stock.

Porsche’s parent owns more than 50 per cent of Volkswagen’s voting stock.
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