Volkswagen formally took a 49.9 per cent stake in Porsche yesterday, the latest stage in the process agreed in August this year under which the sports car maker will eventually be completely integrated into VW. The value of the stake was reported to be €3.9 billion.

The histories of VW and Porsche have been intertwined from the beginning. As well as the obvious similarities between the VW Beetle and the Porsche 356 and 911/912 in terms of general layout, in particular the use of a rear-mounted, horizontally-opposed engine, there have been several other examples of cooperation between the two companies, such as the development of the 1969 VW-Porsche 914, and the Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg SUVs, which are sister models under the skin. The 1975 Porsche 924 was originally destined to be a Volkswagen.

But Volkswagen has never before embraced Porsche as closely as it is planning to now; the new set-up will need to be managed carefully in order to allow Porsche to draw upon Volkswagen's financial and engineering resources, while maintaining enough independence to retain its distinctive edge in designing new cars.

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