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Former Volkswagen chairman mulls sale of controlling stake

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Berlin, March 24 (IANS) Volkswagen Group’s former Chairman Ferdinand Piech, owner of 14.7 per cent of the voting shares in Porsche SE, is said to be discussing sale of his stake, the media reported on Friday.

The Porsche SE holding company controls 52.2 per cent of Volkswagen Group’s voting rights, Xinhua news agency reported.

This could end his two decades of control over the German giant that saw it become largest car manufacturer in the world.

The stake, worth some 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion), must first be offered to the other members of the Piech and Porsche families who have the right of first refusal.

Collectively the two families own half of the company but, as the publicly traded shares have no voting rights, they have complete control.

Porsche SE chairman and CEO Hans Dieter Poetsch said: "There will be no change to the fact that the voting shares will be held by the Porsche and Piech familie", implying that any sale will be between family members and not outsiders.

However, Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer of the Center for Automotive Research in Duisberg, has questioned whether the families can afford to buy the stake.

Piech’s grandfather and namesake, Ferdinand Porsche, founded the Porsche Company and invented the Volkswagen Beetle, one of the best-selling cars of all time.

Piech, who will turn 80 next month, quit as chairman in April 2015 following a public falling out with then Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn.

Five months later, the diesel emissions scandal at the company erupted, and claimed his rival Winterkorn’s job.

The scandal involved selling around 11 million cars fitted with software designed to cheat emissions tests.

Piech remains on the supervisory board of Porsche SE but may leave at the annual meeting on May 30, when the number of board members is scheduled to reduce from 12 to 6.

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