Last year I was fascinated by a financial story that involved Porsche secretly buying Volkswagen stock for three years, disclosing that it owned 75% of the company, and reaping as much as 40 billion euros from distressed short sellers.
Now Volkswagen is taking over Porsche. Porsche’s CFO, Holger Härter, who engineered the short squeeze, is out of a job, as is Porsche’s CEO, as is Porsche’s CEO Wendelin Wiedeking.
Porsche still owns more than 50% of Volkswagen, but apparently it cannot continue to operate under its current debt load, creating an opening for VW:
Though its operative business responded flexibly to the sharp drop-off in auto sales, a €9 billion debt load proved unbearable. Ferdinand Piëch, a member of the Porsche founding family, a board member and chairman of Volkswagen, pounced on the opportunity.
Mr. Piëch ratcheted up a public and private campaign to reverse the terms of Porsche’s audacious bid, suggesting that Volkswagen, sitting on an enormous cash pile of its own, could buy Porsche. But he insisted that Mr. Wiedeking would have to go and that Porsche would have to bring in some cash on its own.