VW takes majority stake in Scania

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Volkswagen, Europes largest carmaker, on Monday was on the verge of becoming the continents biggest truckmaker too as it agreed to buy a majority stake in Swedens Scania.

The move by VW to buy the 31 per cent held by the powerful Wallenberg family and its Investor investment vehicle puts an end to one of the longest-running and bitter takeover battles in corporate Europe recently.

MAN, the German truckmaker in which VW holds 29.9 per cent, has a 17 per cent stake in Scania.

Scanias A-shares rose sharply in early Stockhom trading but retreated to stand 3.8 per cent lower at SKr164 after Volkswagen said it would leave the company listed in Stockholm.

Dieter Poetsch, VW chief financial officer, said VW would not make a mandatory offer for the remainder of Scanias shares as it had a waiver from the Swedish authorities dating from its entry into the company in 2000.

We have no intention to alter the shareholder structure of Scania or the listing. Scania will remain a listed company, he said. We maintain a clear image and identity for all of our brands.

MAN abandoned a hostile takeover attempt for Scania last year after failing to reach an agreement with either the Wallenbergs or VW, which then bought its stake in the German group.

Brje Ekholm, chief executive of Investor, said: Through this transaction we create a clarity about the future ownership of Scania. The situation [after the failed MAN bid] has nevertheless led to uncertainty and speculation over the ownership situation at Scania, with a negative effect on the company.

The Scania purchase marks another high point in the career of Ferdinand Pich, chairman of VWs supervisory board. He had already masterminded the purchase of 31 per cent of VW by Porsche, the sports car maker where he is a controlling shareholder.

The takeover brings VW closer to groups such as Japans Toyota and Germanys Daimler that it would like to emulate with car and truck activities. VW last week announced record full-year results and analysts had pondered what it would do with its growing cash pile.

Martin Winterkorn, VW chairman said: We have no plans for strategic changes, in particular for Scanias workforce, in the foreseeable future. There is no idea to create a new [holding] company.

He added that VW did not plan to change the Scania management team.

Bringing together MAN and Scania plus VWs heavy trucks operations in Brazil and its vans business in Europe would create a truck company to rival Volvo in Europe, although it would lag behind Daimler worldwide.

Truck manufacturers need to develop their platforms for the next generation of vehicles soon and analysts think hundreds of millions of euros could be saved by combining the volumes of Scania and MAN.

It also remained unclear what the effect would be on MAN, which VW already in effect controls with Mr Pich as chairman.

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