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Auto blogTue, 18 Jun 2013
In August, 2009, as the scuttled merger of Porsche and Volkswagen had gone bad and Porsche was backed up against the ropes, Porsche Automobil Holding SE (PAHSE) relinquished a ten-percent stake in itself to Qatar Holdings as well as options it held on 17 percent of VW shares. The sale meant that, for the first time since the founding of the company 61 years before, an entity outside the Porsche and Piech families had a say in the running of PAHSE.
Buying that ten-percent stake back returns full ownership to the two families, the holding company's sole possession being ownership of 50.7 percent of VW's common shares. The price paid wasn't disclosed, but at market rates the purchase would be worth close to $1.25 billion. Qatar intends to hold onto the 17-percent stake it has in Volkswagen.
Hedge fund managers have been suing Porsche for years now, alleging that the car company lied about its intentions during its failed attempt to take over Volkswagen, a gambit that caused them billion in losses. Over the same period, authorities in Stuttgart built a criminal case against former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking (above, left) and Chief Financial Officer Holger Härter (right), filing charges in December 2012. When those fund plaintiffs lost their most recent court case, one of the dimming lights in the dark and receding tunnel was that the criminal investigation might unearth more evidence about Porsche's actions that could help the plaintiffs in pending litigation.
Bloomberg reports that another light has gone out, though, with a Stuttgart court dismissing the market manipulation case before going to trial because, as a court spokesperson said, "there wasn't enough evidence backing up the charges." When prosecutors get the files back from the court, they have a week to decide to refile, but unless they've been sandbagging evidence that could bolster the case, the only lights at the end of the tunnel will be those welcoming Wiedeking and Härter back to the world of legally unencumbered men.
Potential labor woes aside, it looks like Volkswagen's Chattanooga, TN factory must have done something that impressed the bosses in Germany, because it sounds like the three-year-old factory is set to score a second model.
The factory currently builds the Passat, and has been in the running alongside VW's Puebla, Mexico factory to build a new crossover vehicle, likely based on the CrossBlue Concept. According to Bloomberg, a pair of unnamed sources have confirmed that Chattanooga is the favorite ahead of an official announcement.
When last we heard about the CrossBlue Concept, word was that a production decision had been delayed over concerns about the three-row CUV's business case. That August 2013 story claimed that a decision regarding the CrossBlue would be pushed back until early in 2014, which means we're ripe for some sort of news, whether good or bad.