VW snaps up MAN shares in bid to create agreed truck merger

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The Independent Online

The takeover battle between the German truck maker MAN and its Swedish counterpart Scania took an unexpected turn yesterday after Volkswagen snapped up a 15 per cent stake in MAN in an apparent attempt to push through a friendly merger.

The German car maker already owns a 34 per cent stake in Scania and has publicly opposed the hostile €9.6bn (£6.5bn) bid tabled by MAN in mid-September as not representing fair value.

VW yesterday paid an estimated €1.5bn for its shareholding in MAN, giving it an important say in both truck makers. In a statement, VW said: "In principle there is a high degree of potential for synergies between MAN and Scania. In order to realise these quickly, it is essential that the two management teams work in a co-operative environment. In our opinion, a hostile takeover does not encourage this."

A merger of the two groups would create Europe's biggest maker of heavy trucks, overtaking rivals DaimlerChrysler and Volvo. VW said there was also a possibility of creating a three-way alliance by adding its Brazilian truck business to any link-up between Scania and MAN.

Volkswagen's chief executive Bernd Pischetsrieder said in a statement that Volkswagen's truck business in Brazil could add additional value by helping them expand into emerging markets. Volkswagen's light truck business also offers synergies, according to the statement.

"MAN and Scania would benefit from being able to offer a full fleet range and one-stop service for customers," the company said.

Analysts believe that any merger would have to value Scania shares at much more than the 462 Swedish crowns MAN has so far offered.

The price might have to go as high as 500 crowns.