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23 May 2024

VW labour boss sees MAN takeover

By Agencies


Just 48 hours after Volkswagen AG took control of Swedish truckmaker Scania AB, VW's top labour leader on Wednesday said he sees a VW takeover of German industrial group MAN as likely.

"It is conceivable that MAN soon comes to Volkswagen as well," Bernd Osterloh told Reuters during the Geneva motor show.

Currently, however, there were no concrete plans for VW to raise its near 30 per cent stake in Scania rival MAN to a majority, said the labour boss, who also sits on Volkswagen's supervisory board.

Osterloh said that VW's MAN stake was sufficient to push through important decisions at the annual shareholder meeting.

Shares in MAN rose sharply, closing up nearly 5 percent after receiving an additional boost when Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn was later quoted in a WirtschaftsWoche report saying that he was looking at further targets in the truck industry following the Scania deal.

When asked by the German business weekly whether the shopping spree was over, Winterkorn replied: "No, it will go on." The magazine went on to cite a source or sources on the VW management board as saying a full takeover of MAN was planned for this year.

Volkswagen's head of communications Stephan Gruehsem flatly denied the WirtschaftsWoche report that quotes Winterkorn, saying the statements were completely out of context and no acquisitions were planned in the commercial vehicles industry.

"It was taken out of thin air," he said.

On Monday, Volkswagen said it reached an agreement with Investor AB and Sweden's powerful Wallenberg family to buy their stakes in Scania, giving it 69 per cent of the votes and ending a stalemate in discussions to form a three-way truck alliance with MAN.

But analysts expect Volkswagen could gain far more synergies by merging Scania with MAN's commercial vehicle business.

A takeover would effectively place MAN under the umbrella of the Porsche SE holding company which said on Monday its supervisory board gave the green light for management to raise its 31 per cent voting stake in VW to over 50 per cent.

Volkswagen and MAN Chairman Ferdinand Piech had said on Monday that he expected MAN would not be broken up, which would facilitate an integration of the German industrial conglomerate's commercial vehicles business only.

Volkswagen shares closed up 1 per cent at 152.85 euros. (Reuters)