Volkswagen, Europe’s largest carmaker, is examining a capital raising of up to €4bn ($5.7bn) as part of a plan to buy Porsche, the Financial Times has learnt.
Last week the Piëch and Porsche families ended months of feuding over a rescue of the German sports car maker, which has amassed more than €10bn of net debt, by agreeing to fold it into VW.
“Volkswagen is planning to buy Porsche’s sports car business as fast as possible and, to finance this, they are thinking about strengthening their capital base,” a person familiar with the matter said.
VW, which is poised to start looking into Porsche’s books in the coming days, declined to comment. But people in the company said its management was determined to keep its solid credit rating.
Rating agencies have been sceptical about a combination of the two companies, fearing Porsche’s high debt load could worsen VW’s credit profile.
Moody’s placed VW’s A3 rating under review in May after the families agreed to create an “integrated automotive group” that would bring Porsche under the same umbrella as Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini and other famous brands.
VW has gained market share this year and the carmaker is seen as one of the main winners from the various scrapping incentives governments have launched around the world to fight the slump in demand in the car industry. Analysts predict that next year, when most of the incentive programmes run out, will be very tough for the volume carmaker.
VW and Porsche plan to decide on the structure of the combined group by August 13. The families are aiming to take a stake of more than 50 per cent in VW but could end up with less than 40 per cent, people close to the situation said.
The state of Lower Saxony, VW’s second-largest shareholder with 20.01 per cent, would keep special voting rights that gave it a blocking minority on big decisions, a spokesman said.
The families have agreed to codify rights for shareholders with a stake of at least 20 per cent of the combined group.
This pact with the families ensures that Lower Saxony can retain its blocking minority, regardless of whether the European Commission again contests the so-called VW law. The law protected the regional states’ special voting rights and has been subject of fierce political and judicial battles between the European Union and the German government.
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