Volkswagen hikes MAN stake, can now dominate

FRANKFURT Tue Jun 5, 2012 12:02pm EDT

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) increased its shareholding in MAN SE (MANG.DE), opening the door to a possible domination and profit transfer agreement and sending shares in the German truck maker sharply higher.

Europe's biggest carmaker hiked its voting stake in the German truck, bus and coach maker to just over 75 percent from a previous 73.76 percent.

This offers Volkswagen the opportunity to ask shareholders to approve a domination agreement, which would give it full strategic and financial control over MAN.

"Volkswagen is keeping all options open to further shape an integrated commercial vehicles group going forward," said the Wolfsburg-based carmaker in a statement on Tuesday.

Volkswagen already has such an agreement in place with Audi (NSUG.DE), its listed luxury brand, where an annual cash compensation is paid that matches the VW ordinary dividend.

Instead of the 2.30 euros per share they received in late April, for example, MAN investors would have been entitled to the same 3.00 euro per share that VW voting rights carry.

MAN shares jumped far more than that, however, rising over 9 percent as of 11:27 a.m. EDT (1527 GMT) to trade at 85.03 euros.

"Speculators are likely hoping for a squeeze-out and would argue that Volkswagen is willing to pay as much as 95 euros a share, which was the price offered during its mandatory takeover bid," said Silvia Quandt analyst Albrecht Denninghoff.

"Even though the growth strategy is convincing, I would recommend investors short the stock at these levels, particularly with the near-term outlook for the European truck market cloudy," he continued, adding that he has a sell rating and a 75 euro price target on MAN stock.

The announcement comes only days after Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn announced a vigorous shake up in his management team, appointing the head of VW trucks unit Scania SCVb.ST to VW's management board responsible for commercial vehicles.

"This marks a further important milestone for achieving our joint goals in the commercial vehicles business as elsewhere through close cooperation," Winterkorn said in the statement.

(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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