EU regulators to probe aid for Porsche car project

BRUSSELS, July 11 Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:45am EDT

BRUSSELS, July 11 (Reuters) - EU competition regulators will examine whether a 522-million-euro ($640 million) project to build a new Porsche passenger car gives the German carmaker an unfair advantage, in breach of EU state aid rules.

The European Commission opened an in-depth investigation on Wednesday, saying it was necessary because of the high market shares of Porsche and its part-owner Volkswagen.

"The Commission will check whether the aid is necessary and proportionate to provide an incentive for the investment and whether its contribution to regional development outweighs the distortion of competition," the EU regulator said in a statement.

The project in Leipzig, in the east of Germany, it to make a new passenger car model, the Porsche Macan, by 2014. German authorities will provide a direct grant of 43.67 million euros and an investment premium.

German authorities notified the EU regulator of the proposed aid in December last year.

Volkswagen is seeking to buy up the remaining half of Porsche it does not already own. ($1 = 0.8160 euros) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Rex Merrifield)

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