Porsche workers to fight merger with Volkswagen image

Porsche SE employees vowed to fight to “the bitter end” for the independence of the sports-car maker as a decision nears on a planned merger with Volkswagen AG and as a German magazine reported that Porsche’s CEO will leave.

Chief Executive Officer Wendelin Wiedeking hasn’t stepped down and will attend a supervisory board meeting on July 23, Albrecht Bamler, a company spokesman, said today in response to a report in WirtschaftsWoche that the CEO will leave. The weekly magazine didn’t cite a source for its report.

Speaking at rallies at plants in Weissach and Zuffenhausen, Uwe Hueck, Porsche’s top labor leader, called on the Porsche and Piech families to adhere to pledges not to sell the carmaker. Hueck wants the families, who control the voting shares, to clear the way for an investment by Qatar and participate in a capital increase to bolster the debt-strapped company’s finances, according to an e-mailed statement today.

Hueck singled out Ferdinand Piech, Volkswagen’s chairman and a member of the Porsche clan, to stand behind a statement from 1993, when he said that “Porsche will be independent as long as I live.”

Porsche is considering ways to reduce more than 9 billion euros ($12.6 billion) in debt after amassing a 51 percent stake in VW as well as options for more than 20 percent of the Wolfsburg-based carmaker. Volkswagen and Porsche said in May that they were in talks to merge. The Qatar Investment Authority has made an offer for a Porsche stake and the VW options, and is interested in a combination, Porsche has said.

Qatar Investment

The Stuttgart-based manufacturer may hand over its VW options to Qatar for free to remove liabilities of the derivatives and lay the groundwork for investments from VW and the Persian Gulf state, three people familiar with the situation have said. Qatar would then pay about 5 billion euros to banks that sold Porsche the options.