Volkswagen Takes Control of MAN

VW wants to merge MAN and Scania with its own heavy-vehicle activities to create a rival for two other European heavyweights, Daimler Trucks and Volvo Trucks.

Volkswagen, the biggest European automaker, said on July 4 that it now holds a majority of the heavy truck maker MAN, a key step toward the creation of a third European truck giant.

VW, which was obliged by German law to make a public offer for MAN shares after its holding rose recently above 30%, was "more than pleased with the result," chief executive Martin Winterkorn said.

The group has acquired 53.7% of the capital and 55.9% of the voting rights in MAN, paving the way for a tie-up with Scania of Sweden, which VW also owns. It wants to merge the two truck makers along with its own heavy-vehicle activities to create a rival for two other European heavyweights, Daimler Trucks and Volvo Trucks.

Regulatory approval for various parts of VW's plans must still be obtained, however, and the group plans to begin by working for 200 million euros (US $290 million) in cost savings through joint purchases for the different brands.

VW had offered 95 euros (US $138.51) for ordinary shares and 59.90 euros for preference shares in MAN, which also makes diesel engines and industrial turbines.

"Our objective of realizing substantial synergies between MAN, Scania and Volkswagen in the interest of all shareholders, employees and customers is moving closer," Winterkorn said. The automaker owns 71% of the voting rights in Scania, while MAN owns another 17%. VW had initially sought only 35% to 40% of MAN's equity to provide it with a decisive vote during shareholder general assemblies.

But a MAN spokesman said: "Our shareholders have decided, MAN will belong to the VW family. We are opening a new chapter in MAN's long history."

MAN, which was founded 253 years ago as a steel company, plans to "take advantage of opportunities provided by this situation and fully support Volkswagen any way it can in examinations by European competition authorities," the spokesman said.

The European Commission has objected to VW naming three members of Scania's supervisory board to that of MAN, forcing a strategic retreat by Ferdinand Piech, who is head of the supervisory boards of both VW and MAN.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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