Germany's Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest carmaker, expects to post a clear double-digit percentage rise in pretax profits this year, CEO Ferdinand Piech said Thursday at a presentation on the company's results. Finance director Bruno Adelt said the company was aiming for at least a 10% rise, though a more likely increase would be 20%, and the company even has hopes of a 30% rise. Volkswagen confirmed pretax profits for 1999 were 4.93 billion Deutsche marks (US$2.43 billion), down from 6.287 billion in 1998. Sales during the first quarter of this year rose 4% to 1.2 million units. Speaking at VW's annual news conference, Piech took the opportunity to dismiss recent media speculation that VW was interested in making a bid for its Bavarian rival BMW AG, which has been at the center of a storm over its decision last week to sell its interest in Rover Cars. However, he did reiterate that VW was considering a takeover of Swedish truck and bus manufacturer Scania AB with a view to expanding its commercial vehicle operations.