VW increases stake in MAN, hopes to guide truck alliance with Scania

Volkswagen AG said Tuesday it has increased its stake in German truckmaker MAN AG to nearly 30 percent, a move that would give it a better say in guiding the company toward a friendly alliance with Swedish truckmaker Scania AB.

In a statement, Volkswagen said it had raised its stake in Munich-based MAN from 20 percent to 29.9 percent, ensuring its position as the company's biggest stakeholder. Likewise, Volkswagen is also Scania's biggest shareholder.

The stake is just shy of the 30 percent threshold that, under German law, would trigger a mandatory takeover bid. Volkswagen did not say if it would increase its stake further or if it was mulling a bid for MAN.

"The Board of Management of Volkswagen is convinced that this level of participation in MAN is both helpful and adequate to allow all parties to find a friendly and mutually agreeable solution for combining MAN and Scania," the Wolfsburg-based company said. "Realizing the acknowledged high synergy potential remains the objective."

In late January, MAN withdrew a hostile EUR10.3 billion (US$13.55 billion) bid for Scania after Volkswagen objected to the move, preferring to pursue a friendly linkup.

The two companies are expected to hold talks later this year about an alliance, but no date has been scheduled.

Scania spokeswoman Stina Thorman said the Swedish truckmaker would not comment on VW's purchase, but said no concrete discussions about a merger have been initiated.

"There are no such talks going on," she said. "If we have anything more concrete to say, we will do so later."

MAN said it was aware of Volkswagen's increase and added that no talks with Scania where currently under way, reports AP.

Shares of Volkswagen fell more than half a percent to EUR94.28 in Frankfurt trading while MAN shares were down nearly three-fourths of a percent to EUR85.16. Scania shares were down 1.8 percent to 537 kronor (EUR57.83; US$76.10) in Stockholm trading.

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