VW Making Mandatory Takeover Offer For MAN

Volkswagen AG has increased its voting stake in truck maker MAN SE to more than 30 percent, triggering a mandatory takeover offer for the whole company.

BERLIN (AP) -- Volkswagen AG said Monday that it has increased its voting stake in truck maker MAN SE to more than 30 percent -- triggering a mandatory takeover offer for the whole company -- as it seeks to deepen a three-way European commercial vehicle alliance.

Volkswagen, Europe's largest automaker, said its holding of MAN ordinary shares rose to 30.47 percent on Monday. Taking a 30 percent stake in a company's voting rights forces a takeover bid under German law.

The automaker said it will make a cash bid and plans to offer euro95 per MAN ordinary share. That was below their price earlier Monday of euro95.89, which itself was down 0.7 percent on the day.

Volkswagen said raising its stake in Munich-based MAN marked "one step further towards an integrated commercial vehicle group" that also includes Scania AB of Sweden.

Volkswagen supervisory board chief Ferdinand Piech said more than a year ago that he wants MAN and Scania, which both count VW as their biggest shareholder, to cooperate.

Last November, MAN said it was seeking closer cooperation with Scania, which spoke of a possible combination between the two companies but suggested that their brands would remain separate.

Volkswagen holds more than 45 percent of Scania, and MAN more than 13 percent.

VW said discussions had shown that closer cooperation among the three would allow for "substantial synergies in the fields of procurement, development and production."

"However, antitrust restrictions currently existing pose high hurdles for this," it said in a statement. "To enable a more in-depth cooperation among MAN, Scania and Volkswagen, merger control clearance and further increase of Volkswagen's holding in MAN are required."

It added that "options to further shape an integrated commercial vehicle group remain open for the future."

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said that "the specific brand characteristics and all business areas of MAN and Scania remain unaffected."

Volkswagen shares were 1.8 percent lower at euro128.05 in Frankfurt after the announcement. MAN's ordinary shares turned around, rising 2.1 percent to euro98.57.

VW said its offer for MAN's preference shares will equal the domestic weighted average stock exchange price over the past three months -- somewhere around euro60. Those shares dropped 6.2 percent to euro65.60.
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