FRANKFURT/BERLIN Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) denied planning a bid for U.S. truck maker Paccar (PCAR.O) after analysts published comments in a research note from a senior executive of German rival Daimler (DAIGn.DE) saying he had heard of such a plan.
According to Bernstein Research, Daimler Trucks Chief Wolfgang Bernhard insisted that "serious, multiple sources" informed him that VW was going to bid for Paccar in 2015.
A spokesman at VW's Wolfsburg-based headquarters emphatically denied the rumours, calling them "complete rubbish."
Daimler declined to comment while Paccar was not immediately available for comment. Bernhard was briefing analysts at an event hosted by Daimler Trucks late on Wednesday when he made the comments, Bernstein said.
Shares in VW fell as much as 1.4 percent and were trading 0.7 percent lower at 191.40 euros as of 0907 GMT, valuing the firm at 90.9 billion euros ($123.99 billion). Paccar had a market capitalisation of $22.3 billion at Wednesday's close.
Europe's largest automotive group is pushing ahead with a long-planned alignment of its heavy-trucks brands MAN SE and Scania after its 6.7 billion-euro ($9.14 billion) bid for the Swedish division was accepted by shareholders.
To be headed by Daimler's previous trucks chief, Andreas Renschler, the VW-led alliance of heavy-duty vehicle makers aims to deepen cooperation in areas including drive-trains, chassis and electronics.
But Scania SCVb.D does not have a substantial presence in the United States, while MAN (MANG.DE) is mainly active in Europe as well as Brazil and other emerging economies.
Analysts have long predicted VW would seek to enter the world's biggest trucks market, either via an acquisition of Paccar or of troubled U.S. rival Navistar International (NAV.N), to take on global trucks leaders Daimler and Volvo AB (VOLVb.ST).
VW has indicated that despite its large cash reserves of 17.7 billion euros at the end of March, it would seek to raise funds for any further deals.
But Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn told the March 13 annual press conference that VW has no plans at present to expand the group through further acquisitions as it is focusing on integrating its 12-brand network.
Meanwhile, analysts questioned the rationale behind Bernhard's comments.c
"The only rational answer to our mind is that Daimler is trying to make life difficult for anyone trying to further consolidate the industry," said Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst at investment researchers ISI Group.
"There are probably few more efficient ways of doing this than in front of a group of sellside analysts."
(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Additional reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Joseph Radford and Elaine Hardcastle)