VW Buys Porsche Sales Unit

Purchase price was $4.55 billion

Europe's biggest carmaker, Volkswagen, said on March 1 that it has finalized the purchase of Porsche Holding Salzburg (PHS) a lucrative automobile distributor, for 3.3 billion euros ($4.55 billion).

The acquisition, part of a global agreement between the two companies, is the "next major step towards the creation of the integrated automotive group of Volkswagen and Porsche," a statement said.

PHS controls the distribution and sale of Porsche sportscars in large parts of Europe and China, and was described by VW chairman Martin Winterkorn as "one of the world's most efficient and profitable automobile trading companies."

In 2010, it reported sales of 565,000 new and used cars, and generated revenue of €12.78 billion, VW said.

VW sales director Christian Klingler added: "Under the Volkswagen group umbrella, PHS will retain its status as an independent organizational unit and continue with its business model unchanged."

VW already owns 49.9% of Porsche's core manufacturing unit and plans to buy the rest, making it the group's 10th brand. The deal has hit a snag however, as prosecutors in Stuttgart, southern Germany, pursue a probe into former Porsche executives for suspected stock price manipulation in connection with a previous, failed attempt by Porsche to take over the much bigger VW.

That attempt ran Porsche's debt up to around six billion euros and VW's acquisition of PHS will help Porsche pay off some of the debt before it is integrated into the VW group.

Porsche is also planning a capital increase of around five billion euros that should be finalized by the end of May.

Some German media now give 2014 as a possible date for a full takeover by VW although analysts expect it to happen next year.

Porsche would join prestigious names like Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini in VW's stable of thoroughbred brands.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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