STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters) - The twelve members of Porsche SE’s (PSHG_p.DE) supervisory board assembled on Wednesday, a day earlier than expected, to discuss the fate of the indebted sportscar maker.
A company source said it remained unclear whether the entire board would just prepare for Thursday’s session or actually reach a conclusion on major issues including the possible disposal of its sports car business to Volkswagen (VOWG.DE) or the sale of a voting stake to Qatar.
At stake is control over an automotive empire set to emerge from any deal between the two, an issue that has pitted the Porsche family against relations from the rival Piech clan that together control the sports car maker.
Chief Executive Wendelin Wiedeking is fighting for his career against archrival Ferdinand Piech, a part owner of Porsche who is also VW’s powerful chairman.
While Piech is pushing for a sale of Porsche’s sports car business, Wiedeking wants to solve his company’s crushing debt problems through a capital increase that would see an outsider, Gulf investor Qatar, receive a voting stake in Porsche.
The Porsche family has heavily backed Germany’s best paid manager for years thanks to his previous success, but sources told Reuters that they had reached the final stages in talks with the embattled CEO over his possible departure.
They added that the majority of the family was tending toward accepting the offer of Volkswagen.
Originally Porsche’s supervisory board was due to hold an extraordinary meeting tomorrow afternoon at its Weissach development center near its headquarters, only hours after Volkswagen’s board would meet at the Stuttgart airport.
Several outcomes remained possible in a power struggle between Porsche SE and Volkswagen, people familiar with the matter said.
One matter the two sides still need to discuss according to the sources is a potential tax liability that a merger would create, which German media this week said could total 3 billion euros ($4.26 billion).
Bankers are working toward resolving the issue, a person familiar with the negotiations said.
Porsche SE, the holding company that controls sportscar maker Porsche AG, needs to dig itself out of a debt hole and strengthen its negotiating position. It accumulated debt of more than 10 billion amid failed efforts to seize full control of VW -- Europe’s biggest carmaker. Porsche was forced to abandon attempts to win control over 75 percent of VW leaving it in control of a stake of nearly 51 percent.
The Porsche and Piech families -- which control all the voting shares at Porsche SE -- have been at loggerheads for months over how to resolve its debt woes and the role Volkswagen would play in the whole deal.
A sale of Porsche AG to Volkswagen would help Porsche SE pay off most of its debt. The sale of a package of financial instruments which can be converted in to a further 20 percent stake in VW would further bolster Porsche’s finances.
Shares of Volkswagen closed 1 percent higher at 251.95 euros, while Porsche’s stock closed up 2.2 percent at 51.61.
Reporting by Hendrik Sackmann and Philipp Halstrick; Writing by Maria Sheahan; editing by John Stonestreet