VW's Scania bid succeeds, clears way for truck alliance
HANOVER, Germany/ STOCKHOLM
HANOVER, Germany/ STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE) 6.7 billion euro ($9.2 billion) offer for its Swedish trucks arm Scania SCVb.ST has been accepted by minority shareholders, a big step in the German automaker's plan to create a trucks alliance to compete in global markets.
Scania's full integration into the German group is vital for VW's effort to align the Swedish company with MAN SE (MANG.DE) and its light commercial-vehicle business, to take on global leaders Daimler (DAIGn.DE) and Volvo AB (VOLVb.ST).
VW said on Tuesday it would control 90.5 percent of Scania's capital after 27.5 percent of stockholders of the Swedish company accepted its 200 Swedish crowns ($30.48) per share offer, exceeding the 90 percent acceptance threshold.
"We can now take the next logical and consistent step in our strategy to strengthen the operating integration of Scania, MAN and VW commercial vehicles," Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said at VW's annual shareholder meeting in Hanover, Germany.
Earlier on Tuesday, Swedish pensions manager Alecta, the third-biggest owner of Scania capital with a 2.04 percent stake, said it would accept VW's offer, reversing its previous stance and helping to push support for the bid above 90 percent.
VW on April 30 extended the acceptance period until May 16 after failing to reach that level. By pushing cooperation among the three truck divisions, VW aims to achieve operating profit synergies of at least 650 million euros per year, though expects it may take at least a decade to achieve the full potential.
Europe's biggest automotive group is struggling to replicate in trucks the success of its multi-brand strategy in passenger cars, where it makes vehicles ranging from luxury Audis and Porsche sports cars to cheaper Skodas.
"After years of stagnation, VW will be able to resume work on a key trouble spot within the group," said Hanover-based NordLB analyst Frank Schwope.
To be headed by former Daimler executive Andreas Renschler, the VW-led alliance aims to deepen cooperation in areas including drive-trains, chassis and electronics.
VW shares ended down 0.1 percent at 191.65 euros. Scania shares were up 2 percent at 199.90 crowns, just shy of VW's 200 crown bid.
Settlement for shares tendered up until May 12 will not occur until about May 19, VW said, though it is unlikely investors pledging to accept the offer will change their minds.
Settlement of stock tendered after May 12 will occur on or around May 27. The offer period ends at 1500 GMT on May 16.
"It's our conclusion that a higher bid price cannot be achieved," Sweden's Alecta said. "Even though the bid still does not fully reflect Scania's long-term value, we believe it is acceptable."
Swedish state pension fund AP4, which previously rejected VW's offer, said it will hand in its stake amounting to about 0.6 percent of Scania's equity. Skandia Liv, another pension fund which owns 0.9 percent of Scania capital, also altered its initial opposition and accepted the offer.
Separately, Scania Chief Executive Martin Lundstedt welcomed "the opportunity to accelerate cooperation projects with VW and MAN without restrictions" as both companies eye closer cooperation.
To fund its offer, VW plans to sell preferred shares for up to 2 billion euros, issue hybrid capital of up to 3 billion euros and draw another 2 billion euros from its ample cash reserves of 17.7 billion euros.
VW dropped a motion to seek shareholders' approval for permission to issue as much as 10 billion euros of warrant bonds or convertible bonds.
(Additional reporting by Sven Nordenstam and Niklas Pollard.; Editing by Louise Heavens)