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Porsche Raises Volkswagen Stake

September 19, 2008

STUTTGART, GERMANY – Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest carmaker, rose to the highest since it began trading in 1961 as investors bet Porsche SE will seek a full takeover and turmoil in financial markets prompted people to close short positions. VW jumped 63.82 euros, or 27 percent, to 304 euros, the most in at least 19 years. The Wolfsburg, Germany-based company has added 47 percent in the past few days after Porsche, the maker of the 911 sports car, took its stake to 35.1 percent and said it had “de facto” control, according to www.bloomberg.com.

The worst crisis facing markets since the aftermath of the 1929 Wall Street crash may also be boosting VW as short sellers buy shares to unwind positions held as they bet the stock would fall, according to Albrecht Denninghoff, a BHF-Bank analyst in Frankfurt. About 14 percent of VW shares by market value was on loan this week, according to U.K. research firm Data Explorers Ltd.

Porsche began buying VW stock in 2005 to protect ties to its biggest supplier. The company last increased the stake on Sept. 16 and said it planned to own more than half of the stock by the end of November. Spokesman Frank Scholtys said that the purchase of more than a simple majority “is not under consideration.”

The sports-car maker said in March that it doesn’t plan to merge with Volkswagen, while Commerzbank’s Claussen said in his note that a full takeover is unlikely because of the probable cost and the nature of VW’s shareholder structure.

The German state of Lower Saxony is the second-largest investor in Volkswagen with a stake of more than 20 percent. The supervisory board voted Sept. 12 to retain a company-charter provision giving any shareholder with 20 percent a blocking vote on major decisions, protecting the state’s say over the company, according to www.bloomberg.com.

Volkswagen’s gains have helped propel the nine-member Bloomberg Europe Autos Index up 12 percent in three days. Other stocks in the index have declined, led by an 8.2 percent drop for Paris-based PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second- largest carmaker.

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