What lies behind Porsche’s acquisition of a controlling interest in Volkswagen? Well, we know what lies around it, namely the wreckage of many hedge funds who’d short-sold VW stock only to see values rocket when Porsche announced that it now controlled 74 per cent of the company. But the reasons for Porsche’s takeover reach far beyond the world of finance, beyond the car industry, and into generations of familial infighting and rivalry. In short, it’s personal.
There are, of course, many sound business reasons why a low-volume manufacturer would want to climb into bed with a high-volume producer. There are economies of scale, efficiencies of distribution, pooled technological resources and hitherto undreamt of clout with suppliers. But Porsche’s rampantly acquisitive attitude towards VW has a different side to it, and at its heart lies one man: Ferdinand Piech. Now 70, Piech (left) sits on the supervisory boards of both Porsche and VW, and it was his desire to unite the two wings of the Porsche family under one corporate roof which originally fuelled this fire. It was his grandfather, Ferdinand Porsche, who designed the Beetle for Hitler and then founded Porsche.
Who should be worried about this, apart from VW workers upon whom more stringent Porsche working practices may be imposed? From the outside, it seems Audi will most likely be in the firing line. Will Porsche want the R8 lodged as a thorn in the side of the 911? Will it let the R10 deny Porsche a Le Mans return? I think not.