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Porsche to become 10th VW brand

2009-07-23 11:34

Porsche chief Wendelin Wiedeking resigned Thursday, paving the way for a takeover of the luxury German sports carmaker by

The VW supervisory board is expected to agree, in principle, Thursday to a two-step 8-billion-euro takeover of Porsche after the legendary sports car group agreed on Wiedeking's departure during an all-night session in Stuttgart.

The prospect of VW now seizing control of Porsche signals an end to the sports carmaker's long cherished independence, with 56-year-
old Wiedeking having lost out in a protracted power struggle with Volkswagen, which is Europe's biggest carmaker.

It also means that Volkswagen has turned the tables on the highly indebted Porsche, which had been forced to abandon an audacious bid to acquire VW.

A decision on Thursday by the Volkswagen board to back the takeover plan would represent a major victory for the company's supervisory board chairman, Ferdinand Piech, with the protracted merger battle having triggered a battle among the two families controlling Porsche  and VW.

At their meeting in the early hours of Thursday, the Porsche board approved a plan to raise 5 billion euros in capital and gave the green light to efforts aimed at securing a deal worth up to 5 billion euros with the Gulf state of Qatar.

Under this plan, the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority could buy a stake in Porsche.

The carmaker's management was asked to prepare for creating an integrated company consisting of Porsche SE and Volkswagen AG.

The capital injection and a deal with oil-rich Qatar is aimed at helping Porsche to cut the debt of about 10 billion euros it wracked up in gaining a majority 51% stake in Wolfsburg-based VW.

Wiedeking, who had been at Porsche's steering wheel for 16 years, will be succeeded by chief production executive Michael Macht.

A Porsche board member for 11 years, 48-year-old Macht is seen in the German car industry as a Wiedeking protege.

Porsche's financial chief Holger Haerter is to leave the company as well.

Both Wiedeking and Haerter are stepping down immediately and also resigned their seats on the supervisory boards of Volkswagen
and Audi, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group.

With their resignations, both managers wanted to "make an important contribution to pacify the situation," Porsche said in a

Wiedeking, whose contract was to expire in 2012, is to receive a 50-million-euro severance, half of which is to be donated to a
charity, while Haerter is to be paid 12.5 million euros.

Under VW's takeover plan, the Wolfsburg-based motor vehicle group would pick up an initial 49.9-per-cent stake in Porsche and
then buy the rest at a later date at a total cost of about 8 billion euros.

The ownership of the new merged VW-Porsche group would be split between a more-than-50% stake held by the Porsche and Piech
families, a 19.9-per-cent stake held by the Qatar Investment Authority and 10 per cent in the hands of the German state of Lower

Under the integration plan, VW and Porsche would together forge a carmaker with 10 brands.

This includes VW's nine brands from premium saloons such as Lamborghini and Bentley through to its more mass market brands such
as Skoda and its flagship Volkswagen. Porsche will be the 10th brand in the new group.

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