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State fights Porsche move on VW

2008-11-03 06:22

Frankfurt - The German state of Lower Saxony plans to fight Porsche SE's plans to take full control of carmaker Volkswagen by making use of its blocking minority, state Premier Christian Wulff said.

"Lower Saxony wants to keep the independence of VW in the DAX index on the bourse and in Wolfsburg ... as headquarters of the company," Wulff told German Sunday weekly Bild am Sonntag in an interview.

"There will be no domination agreement with us. We will prevent it with our blocking minority," Wulff said.

A federal legislation, the so-called VW Law, gives VW's home state of Lower Saxony a blocking minority in key decisions that normally require 75% shareholder approval in Germany, though its voting stake amounts to just over 20%.

Porsche announced a week ago it owned 42.6% of Volkswagen voting stock and held a further 31.5% in cash-settled options on VW ordinaries - giving it indirect control of 74.1%.

The news led to a massive short squeeze as speculators fought over the last remaining shares to close out their positions.

Porsche finance chief Holger Haerter said in comments published by weekly magazine Der Spiegel that he believed short selling should be banned immediately.

Porsche plans to gain control of over 75% of Volkswagen in order to pass a domination and profit transfer agreement that would grant it full control of VW's cash flows.

Porsche and Lower Saxony are locked in a legal feud over whether a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling from last October against the blocking minority clause already renders the state's position illegal.

Final clarity could emerge once the ECJ reexamines at the EU Commission's behest Germany's revisions to the law that continue to protect the state veto on the basis that the court originally ruled it was only illegal in conjunction with a 20% voting cap.

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