(Updates with analyst’s comment in third paragraph, shares in sixth.)
Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG, Europe’s biggest car manufacturer, is likely to get European Union regulatory clearance by next week for acquiring German truckmaker MAN SE, a person familiar with the matter said.
The deal should get antitrust approval without the need for asset sales or other remedies, said the person, who declined to be identified because the talks are confidential. The European Commission deadline to rule on whether it will start an in-depth investigation into the merger is Sept. 26.
“VW is clearing a major hurdle on its way toward exerting control over MAN,” said Frank Schwope, a NordLB analyst in Hanover, Germany who recommends buying VW and MAN stock.
The maker of the Golf hatchback triggered a mandatory bid for MAN by raising its stake to 30.5 percent from 29.9 percent on May 9 to pave the way for closer cooperation between Munich- based MAN and Sweden’s Scania AB, which VW already controls. A three-way truck alliance may save as much as 1 billion euros ($1.37 billion) in annual costs, according to VW.
The Wolfsburg, Germany-based carmaker will own 55.9 percent of MAN’s voting rights after the deal closes. VW said on Aug. 23 that “numerous” national authorities already approved the planned combination. The company sought 40 percent of MAN’s voting rights in May when it started the bid.
MAN rose as much as 3.2 percent to 61.55 euros, the highest in three weeks, and was trading at 60.12 euros in Frankfurt as of 5:04 p.m. VW’s preferred shares fell as much as 3 percent to 110.60 euros and were trading at 111.25 euros, valuing the manufacturer at 48.7 billion euros.
Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for the commission’s antitrust department, declined to comment on a possible approval of the deal, as did VW spokesman Marco Dalan. MAN spokesman Stefan Straub said “it’s not completely unrealistic” to expect a first-phase approval of the merger by the commission. The EU clearance was reported earlier today by Reuters.
The combination of MAN and Scania would leapfrog Gothenburg, Sweden-based Volvo AB and Daimler AG to create Europe’s largest truckmaker. MAN and Scania together had 30 percent of the European heavy-truck market last year, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. Volvo and Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler each had 21 percent.
Volkswagen backed off plans in June to Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn, Chief Financial Officer Hans Dieter Poetsch and Jochem Heizmann, the carmaker’s commercial-vehicle division chief, to MAN’s supervisory board before gaining approval of the planned merger. The reversal was prompted by guidance from the European Union’s executive arm during antitrust talks, VW said at the time.
Schwope said VW, which had net liquidity of 19.4 billion euros at the end of June, will “successively” increase its holding to at least 75 percent, a threshold that would give VW access to MAN’s cash and a right to more directly influence operating decisions. Winterkorn told reporters on Sept. 13 that the carmaker is “well positioned” with a 56 percent stake.
“I don’t believe that at all,” Schwope said. “They’ll strive to dominate MAN. That way, VW can ensure that MAN and Scania cooperate in the best possible way to create the highest possible synergies.”
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