Man-Scania merger will create a new force in trucks

The German car giant Volkswagen is taking over the Munich-based truck maker Man and plans to merge the group with its Swedish truck business, Scania.

The car maker now holds 55.9 per cent of Man's voting rights and 53.7 per cent of its shares after more Man shareholders took up the €95 (£86) offer than VW had expected.

VW was required under German law to make an offer for Man in late May, when its shareholding rose above the 30 per cent mark.

"Volkswagen is more than pleased with the result," VW's chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, said yesterday. "As a result, our objective of realising substantial synergies between Man, Scania and Volkswagen in the interest of all shareholders, employees and customers is moving closer."

A merger between Man and Scania is expected to produce cost savings of about €200m annually, according to VW, and the combined group will be on a scale to compete with the two behemoths of the European industry, Daimler and Volvo.

Ferdinand Piech, the chairman of VW's supervisory board, is already the chairman of Man, which also owns 17 per cent of Scania, alongside VW's 71 per cent.

Mr Piech's plan to bring the three companies even closer together has been in the pipeline for some time. But the takeover will need regulatory approval before it can proceed, and there has been some resistance to previous efforts. VW's attempt to appoint members to the Man board was vetoed last month by the European Commission, which said the scheme required merger clearance to go ahead.

Man is more than 250 years old, starting life as the first ironworks in the Ruhr region of Germany in 1758. The company started building heavy machinery through the Southern branch of the business, set up in 1840.