VW's Scania bid nearing success as buyout offer extended

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BERLIN -- Volkswagen Group is edging closer toward taking full control of its Swedish truck division, Scania, after its buyout offer won broad support from shareholders and fell just short of an acceptance threshold.

The German group said on Wednesday it controlled 88.25 percent of Scania's equity and 95.81 percent of the voting rights, once the shares tendered for VW's share offer were included.

VW, which has set a 90 percent acceptance threshold for all shares in Scania, said it would extend the acceptance period until May 16 at 16:00 CET. Under Swedish law, if VW reaches 90 percent acceptance it can force out the remaining investors and delist the company.

"We are confident that during the extended acceptance period we will meet the necessary acceptance level for this transaction," VW Chief Financial Officer Hans Dieter Poetsch said in a statement. "This would be a milestone in the process of completing our integrated commercial-vehicles group."

Volkswagen reiterated today that it won’t raise the offer price of 200 kronor ($30.44) a share as part of its 6.7 billion euro ($9.3 billion) bid to take control of Scania.

Scania's full integration into VW is vital for the German carmaker's effort to forge a heavy-truck alliance between Scania, MAN and its own commercial-vehicles division, capable of competing with industry leaders Daimler and Volvo.

“I think VW will manage to get above the 90 percent threshold eventually,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Metzler Bank. “The shareholders who waited until the last minute for a better price got a clear signal now that this won’t happen.”

Europe's biggest automotive group is struggling to replicate its effective multi-brand management of passenger-car marques -- such as luxury flagship Audi and sports-car maker Porsche -- in its truck operations, which is important to the goal of becoming world market leader.

Shareholders who have come out against the VW offer argue that the bid is too low and that the Swedish truckmaker would fare better as a separate listed company, echoing comments from an independent Scania board committee that also rejected the deal. A call and text message sent to the committee seeking comment weren’t immediately returned.

Hans-Aake Danielsson, a Scania spokesman, declined to comment on the deadline extension.

Beating Daimler

Volkswagen has thus far reaped limited financial rewards for the billions of euros invested in buying control of Scania and MAN in the last decade as minority investors resisted efforts to share technology that would boost profit.

VW has achieved only 200 million euros in savings from joint work among Scania and MAN. VW’s goal is to deepen cooperation among the three businesses in areas such as drivetrains, chassis, cabins and electronics to reach annual operating profit synergies of 650 million euros.

The combined businesses would overtake Daimler and Volvo as the biggest truck producer in Europe.

The automaker already has a domination agreement with MAN, which means the two can legally work more closely. That leaves Scania as the last unit preventing VW from creating an integrated heavy-truck division.

“Increasing the synergies substantially from the currently low levels is the only way to earn a return on the high acquisition costs of the truck brands,” said Roman Mathyssek, a Munich-based analyst at consultancy Strategy Engineers.

Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report

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