Volkswagen buys major stake in Suzuki

In a deal that could accelerate the restructuring of the global automobile industry, German car giant Volkswagen announced on Wednesday it was buying a major stake in Japan's Suzuki.

Volkswagen buys major stake in Suzuki
Photo: DPA

VW is to buy a 19.9-percent stake in Suzuki by January 2010, and Suzuki would also acquire a stake in Europe’s biggest carmaker, a joint statement said.

According to Suzuki, the stake is worth about ¥222.5 billion (€1.72 billion) and the Japanese firm “intends to invest up to one half of the amount received from Volkswagen into shares of Volkswagen.”

The two groups said they had “reached a common understanding to establish a close long-term strategic partnership” and a joint press conference was scheduled in Tokyo.

“The alliance may accelerate a reshuffle of grouping of the industry. The global auto industry is now facing a turning point,” said auto analyst Tatsuya Mizuno at Mizuno Credit Advisory.

The alliance could create a broad sales network in Asia since Volkswagen already has a strong presence in China, while Suzuki is a big player in India, the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun noted.

“In terms of product portfolio, global distribution and manufacturing capacities, Volkswagen and Suzuki ideally complement each other,” the statement said.

VW has just bought 49.9 percent of the German luxury sports car maker Porsche and will acquire all of that company by 2011, making Porsche its 10th brand.

The head of VW’s supervisory board, Ferdinand Piech, has said he sees VW eventually owning 12 brands.

Commenting on the alliance with Suzuki however, the statement said “both companies will establish a cooperative relationship while respecting each other’s independence as a stand-alone entity.”

“The companies plan a joint approach to the growing worldwide demand for more environmentally friendly vehicles,” it added.

Mizuno said that “after ending its alliance with GM, Suzuki needed to find a strong partner in order to survive tough competition in the global market.” The deal is therefore “really meaningful for Suzuki,” he added.

“The global auto industry was weathering the crisis and is now entering into a new stage,” Mizuno said.

The management of both firms said their complementary strengths make for a “perfect fit” that will rise to the challenge of the global car market.

Investors cheered the news, as VW shares gained 2.14 percent to €80.58 in morning trading on the Frankfurt stock exchange. The DAX index of German blue-chips was 0.40 percent lower overall.

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Two hospitalized in Munich after activist crashes parachute into Euro 2020 stadium

At least two people were hospitalised Tuesday after a Greenpeace activist crash-landed on the pitch before the Germany-France match at Euro 2020 when his powered parachute microlight struck spidercam cables at Munich's Allianz Arena.

Two hospitalized in Munich after activist crashes parachute into Euro 2020 stadium
The activist lands on the turf of the Allianz Arena. credit: dpa | Christian Charisius

The pilot flew over the pitch just before kick-off in the Group F clash with “Kick out oil” written on the canopy of his parachute.

However, when the pilot hit television cables above the pitch, it knocked his microlight off balance and he landed on the turf after clipping one of the stands, where the casualties happened.

The activist was arrested soon after landing.

A Munich police spokesman told AFP that at least two people suffered head injuries and “both had to be taken to hospital, we don’t know yet how serious the injuries are”.

The police spokesman said the activist appears to have escaped injury, but “we are considering various criminal charges. Munich police has zero understanding for political actions that put lives at risk”.

UEFA also slammed the botched stunt.

“This inconsiderate act – which could have had very serious consequences for a huge number of people attending – caused injuries to several people attending the game who are now in hospital and law authorities will take the necessary action,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.

The parachutist above the stadium. Photo: dpa | Matthias Balk

“The staging of the match was fortunately not impacted by such a reckless and dangerous action, but several people were injured nonetheless.”

The stunt was a protest against German car manufacturer Volkswagen, one of the sponsors of the European Championship, Greenpeace explained in a Twitter post.

“UEFA and its partners are fully committed to a sustainable Euro 2020 tournament and many initiatives have been implemented to offset carbon emissions,” said UEFA.

Greenpeace said they regretted any harm caused.

“This protest was never intended to disrupt the game or hurt people,” read a Twitter post on Greenpeace’s official German account.

“We hope that everyone is OK and that no one was seriously injured. Greenpeace actions are always peaceful and non-violent.”

“Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan.”

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