VW Chairman Piech signals end to buying spree
FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen AG Chairman Ferdinand Piech signaled the carmaker's ambitions to make further acquisitions may have come to an end following setbacks to a planned merger with Porsche SE and a partnership with Suzuki Motor Corp. in the past week.
"We're big enough," Piech said at a VW event in Frankfurt on the eve of the Frankfurt auto show when asked if the carmaker was looking at buying other brands.
Piech's cautious answer stands in contrast to statements he made at car shows in recent years, when he said he'd like to buy Fiat SpA's Alfa Romeo unit and would be interested in expanding the group to 12 brands from the current 10.
Suzuki said yesterday it wants to dissolve a 20-month-old alliance with VW after the German carmaker's 222.5 billion-yen ($2.9 billion) investment failed to yield a single project and the two fought over control. A merger with Porsche won't be completed in 2011 as planned, VW said Sept. 8. VW says it's committed to both projects.
Suzuki will seek to end the pact with Volkswagen, even if the German automaker wants to maintain it, Chairman Osamu Suzuki said on Monday in Tokyo.
VW has talks planned with Suzuki to try and find a resolution for their strained partnership, VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said. "We'll have talks, then see where we are," Winterkorn told reporters at the Volkswagen event on Monday.
The Japanese automaker, which owns 1.49 percent of Volkswagen, plans to sell its holdings if Volkswagen agrees to end the tie-up.
VW owns 19.9 percent of Suzuki.
Volkswagen Chief Financial Officer Hans Dieter Poetsch, who said VW stands by its Suzuki investment, told journalists that the partnership has not worked for some time.
Poetsch said VW's intentions of merging with Porsche remain unchanged and that the carmaker didn't plan to "wait too long" to move forward with the combination.
The two companies put the merger on hold last week due to ongoing lawsuits and investigations against Porsche over accusations the carmaker misled investors during a failed attempt to buy VW.
Porsche has repeatedly denied all of the allegations. VW is currently investigating the tax implications of exercising an option to buy the 50.1 percent stake in Porsche's automotive unit that it doesn't already own, Poetsch said, adding that the process will take a few weeks.
Volkswagen also has a number of projects planned with industry partners, production chief Michael Macht said. "We have a whole series of cooperation projects planned," Macht said without giving details. "These are development projects, cooperation deals from the production side that are planned and are being planned."