Porsche Scrambling To Secure Financial Future, Rejects VW Offer

June 29, 2009
The bravado necessary to run a company like Porsche well has so far been one the of the strengths of the company's current leadership, in particular Wendelin Wiedeking, as it attempts to acquire Volkswagen AG. But that brave move was caught in the unfortunate timing of the current economic crunch, and things have soured.

Instead of securing a solid and steady revenue stream to help pay for its massive $12.6 billion net debt, Porsche ended up with a large but largely useless 51% stake in VW- an amount too small to secure the degree of control it needs.

So now Porsche is shopping its share around, and state-owned Qatar Investment Authority is the leading suitor.

VW, meanwhile, has been trying to get back full control of its operations as relations with its German purchaser grow more and more obstreperous. Today, VW made an offer to buy 49.9% of Porsche's voting stock, but Porsche rejected the offer. Porsche holds about 51% of VW's stock plus another 20% worth of options.

Porsche's reason for rejecting VW's offer was couched in completely practical terms: allowing VW to buy the proposed stake would have triggered a mandatory re-negotiation of $15 billion in financing. But there's a sense that the decision was also based in the growing enmity between the two companies and their leadership.

So what does the future hold for Porsche and VW? That's anybody's guess, but from this vantage point, it looks like whatever the final outcome, infighting and bickering will pave the way.

In the mean time, Qatar may reap the benefits by acquiring a healthy chunk of Porsche, or a portion of Porsche's options in VW, or some combination of the two.

[Wall Street Journal]

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