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VW and Porsche to hold simultaneous board meetings

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Photo: DPA
13:56 CEST+02:00
Volkswagen, the biggest European carmaker, said on Wednesday it would hold a special board meeting next week coinciding with a meeting by its main shareholder, Porsche, in a context of restructuring talk.

“A meeting of the supervisory board has been called for July 23 in Stuttgart,” a VW spokesman told AFP, while declining to comment further.

Porsche is based in Stuttgart, while VW's home is in northern Wolfsburg. The Porsche board is due to discuss an offer by the Gulf state of Qatar for a major stake in the car company and VW stock options held by Porsche, but has downgraded a discussion on an offer from VW, a press report said on Wednesday.

Porsche's supervisory board has placed the question of a Qatari investment under the heading “decision,” while the VW bid is listed under “information,” the popular daily Bild reported.

The two meetings nonetheless suggest there is a chance Porsche and VW could announce a resolution to an ongoing boardroom battle in which their dominant forces, the Porsche and Piech families, have striven to gain the upper hand.

Porsche owns 51 percent of VW and has tried to increase that holding to 75 percent, but has succeeded only in racking up debt of around €9 billion ($12.5 billion).

The much larger VW has since made a counteroffer for 49 percent of Porsche, which is controlled by the two families.

Ferdinand Piech, a grandson of Porsche founder Ferdinand Porsche, is also head of the VW supervisory board.

Uncertainty over Porsche's future has also fuelled tension between a union official and the German state of Lower Saxony, where Wolfsburg is located.

Regional premier Christian Wulf “wants to harm Porsche so Volkswagen can buy us cheaply,” union leader Uwe Hueck, who is close to the Porsche management, claimed in the online edition of the German weekly Focus on Wednesday.

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“He wants to put us in a tight spot and is playing with jobs to do so,” Hueck added.

A statement issued by Lower Saxony's government spokesman Olaf Glaeseker shot back: “Uwe Hueck obviously is afraid of losing his privileges. Otherwise it is impossible to understand his argument and erroneous charges.”

Glaeseker denied Hueck's accusation that Lower Saxony had tied to prevent Porsche from obtaining state credits, and said Wulf had helped the company get a €700-million ($980-million) loan from VW.

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