By Chris Reiter
(Bloomberg) — Porsche SE, strained by 9 billion euros ($12.5 billion) in net debt, may sell its options on Volkswagen AG shares to an investor as the sports-car maker seeks to combine with VW, a person familiar with the plan said.
Porsche is examining a sale of the call options that can be converted into about 20 percent of VW as part of its discussions with investors, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. The move may help Stuttgart, Germany-based Porsche raise money before a planned integration with Europe’s largest carmaker, the person said.
Porsche may be unable to exercise the options, which have helped the carmaker’s profits exceed sales, as it struggles to raise fresh financing, analysts including UniCredit SpA’s Georg Stuerzer have said. Germany’s government said today it needs more time to consider Porsche’s request for a 1.75 billion-euro loan from KfW Group, the country’s state-owned development bank.
“It’s not clear that Porsche would achieve much de- leveraging in a sale,” said Philippe Houchois, an analyst at UBS AG in London. “The options might be worth nothing.”
Albrecht Bamler, a spokesman for Porsche, declined to comment on the options or talks with potential investors.
Volkswagen rose 6.87 euros, or 2.9 percent, to 247.88 euros in Frankfurt trading, valuing the carmaker at 79 billion euros. Porsche added 1 cent, or less than 0.1 percent, to 47 euros, giving the maker of the 911 sports car a market value of 8.19 billion euros.
Porsche began accumulating cash-settled options more than three years ago as it sought to gain control of Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen. The options, added to its 51 percent holding, would give Porsche more than 70 percent of VW, which produces more cars in a week than Porsche does in a year.
The options helped boost Porsche’s profit to 5.55 billion euros in the six months ended Jan. 31. The carmaker reported revenue of 3.04 billion euros in the period. Porsche said last month that it had received a short-term loan from VW, after it struggled to renew a 10 billion-euro credit line.
The owner of the call options would receive cash equivalent to the price of VW’s common shares minus an amount, or strike price, that Porsche has declined to disclose.
Porsche, controlled by the Porsche and Piech families, said on May 6 that it would begin talks with VW on creating an integrated European carmaker that would put Porsche alongside Volkswagen brands including Audi, Skoda and Bentley.
The discussions were disrupted after Volkswagen Supervisory Board Chairman Ferdinand Piech challenged Porsche’s finances and Bernd Osterloh, VW’s works council chief, asked to quit the negotiations. Porsche’s Bamler reiterated today that board-level talks with VW are continuing, without elaborating.
Lower Saxony, the German state where Volkswagen is based, owns a 20 percent stake and has the power to veto any major decisions by the carmaker. Prime Minister Christian Wulff said in a May 18 interview that the state doesn’t intend to increase its holding after a VW-Porsche combination. Porsche should sell a stake in itself to a foreign investor, Wulff said.
Qatari Finance Minister Youssef Kamal said last week that the Persian Gulf state is ready to invest in Porsche. “I don’t know how much, I don’t know when,” he said on June 4 in St. Petersburg, Russia.