* VW extends buyout offer until 1500 GMT on May 16
* Has 88.25 pct of Scania equity, 95.81 pct of voting rights
* Confident of clearing acceptance hurdle
* Investor AB says will tender shares
* Swedish pension firm Alecta declines comment
(Adds Investor AB decision to tender shares)
By Andreas Cremer
BERLIN, April 30 Volkswagen AG is
edging closer toward taking full control of its Swedish truck
division Scania after its buyout offer won broad support from
shareholders and fell just short of an acceptance threshold.
The German group said on Wednesday it controlled 88.25
percent of Scania's equity and 95.81 percent of the voting
rights, once the shares tendered for VW's 200 Swedish crowns
($30.48) per share offer were included.
VW, which has set a 90 percent acceptance threshold for all
shares in Scania, said it would extend the acceptance period
until May 16 at 1500 GMT. The period initially ended April 25.
VW's statement prompted an immediate response from Swedish
holding firm Investor AB, once the owner of the whole
of Scania, which said it would tender a stake of less than 0.4
percent in the firm.
"With our limited trading position and given the wide
acceptance among other shareholders, we do not wish to
contribute to an unclear ownership structure in Scania,"
Investor Chief Executive Borje Ekholm said.
"Given the new information, Investor will tender its
Scania's full integration into VW is vital for the German
carmaker's effort to forge a heavy-truck alliance between
Scania, MAN SE and its own commercial-vehicles
division, that would be capable of competing with industry
leaders Daimler AG and Volvo AB.
"We're confident that during the extended acceptance period
we will meet the necessary acceptance level for this
transaction," VW said in a statement.
Europe's biggest automotive group is struggling to replicate
its effective multi-brand management of passenger-car marques -
such as luxury flagship Audi and sports-car maker Porsche - in
its truck operations, which is important for the goal of
becoming world market leader.
Wolfsburg-based VW has earned limited financial rewards for
the billions of euros invested over the past decade to purchase
control of Scania and MAN because minority investors resisted
steps to share technology that would increase profit.
The German group's bid suffered a setback last month when
Scania board members without direct links to VW said the offer
was too low and did not reflect the long-term potential of the
firm or the likely savings a merger would bring.
VW reiterated on Wednesday it would not raise the bid, a
pledge that would make any improvement of the terms legally
Swedish state pension fund AP4, which opposed VW's offer
earlier this month, said it would study the offer documents
anew, leaving a possibility that they might alter their
rejection. AP4 has 0.6 percent in Scania's equity.
"(A VW capital holding of) 88.25 percent sounds very close
to the 90 (percent threshold), so it is a different situation
now," AP4 chief executive Mats Andersson said. "We have until
May to decide how to proceed."
Another shareholder, AMF Pension, which owns 0.9 percent of
the truckmaker's capital, said on Wednesday it would not alter
its rejection of the VW offer. "This news doesn't alter our view
of the bid," AMF spokesman Mikael Lindh Hok said.
Swedish pension firm Alecta, which has a 2 percent stake in
Scania's capital, declined comment.
To fund its offer, worth about 60 billion Swedish crowns, 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
By seeking to combine R&D activities and deepen cooperation
in areas including drive-trains, chassis and electronics, VW
aims to achieve operating profit synergies of at least 650
million euros per year, though expects say it may take at least
a decade to achieve the full potential.
VW has said it hopes to save more than 200 million euros in
total this year by pooling purchases of materials including
tyres, steel and glass.
($1 = 0.7237 Euros)
(Reporting by Andreas Cremer. Additional reporting by Oskar von
Bahr and Simon Johnson in Stockholm.; editing by Gareth Jones
and Keiron Henderson)