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Porsche owners meet on Qatar bid

2009-07-13 08:14
Rival family owners of Porsche gathered Sunday for a crucial meeting that could decide the future of the indebted German sports carmaker and its bigger rival Volkswagen.

Sources close to the talks said members of the Porsche and Piech clans met in the Austrian town of Salzburg, a day after it was reported the Gulf emirate of Qatar had bid 7 billion euros (9.8 billion dollars) for a stake in Porsche.

The state-run Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) was said to have offered to buy 25% of Porsche Holding SE and options on VW shares currently held by Porsche.

A Porsche spokesman declined to confirm Sunday's talks, which were expected to prepare the groundwork for an extraordinary meeting of Porsche SE's supervisory board on July 23.

That meeting is expected to decide whether to agree to the Qatar offer or to a counterproposal by Volkswagen to purchase 49.9% of Porsche AG, the company which makes the sports cars.

Clearing debt

While the carmaker itself is profitable, the holding company amassed debt of 9 billion euros through its purchase of shares and options in a bid last year to acquire Volkswagen, Europe's biggest carmaker. It won the bulk of the shares, but not control.

Allowing Qatar to take a stake would enable Porsche to clear a large chunk of its debt and strengthen the position of chief executive Wendelin Wiedeking, who is bitterly opposed to the plans of Volkswagen patriarch Ferdinand Piech to integrate Porsche into Volkswagen.

VW's offer, believed to be worth between 3-4 billion euros, was rejected by Porsche last month as unsuitable. The news magazine Der Spiegel said Saturday that VW had upped its offer to "considerably more than 4 billion euros."

Porsche owns 51% of Volkswagen and has share options with banks for another 24 per cent. The other major shareholder is the state of Lower Saxony, where VW has its headquarters, with just over 20%.

Porsche has been seeking an injection of capital since its application for a 1.75-billion-euros loan from KfW, the German federal development bank, was rejected.

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