Porsche is a German sports car manufacturer. The company was founded in 1931 by Ferdinand Porsche, then taken over by his son Ferry Porsche. Ferdinand Porsche was the engineer who created the first Volkswagen. The manufacturer’s main factories, located in Leipzig and Zuffenhausen, Germany, had more than 17,000 employees in 20122.
Porsche is the most profitable car manufacturer in history. This is chronologically the tenth brand3 to have joined the Volkswagen AG4 group. In 2016, its global sales amounted to more than 237,000 vehicles, up from 2015.
The capital of the Porsche Group, headquartered in Zuffenhausen (a district of Stuttgart), was half owned by the Porsche and Piach families. They own all the voting shares, with the remaining 60% divided between private and institutional shareholders. The company’s market capitalisation was 7.98 billion euros in January 2009. In the first quarter of 2009, it employed 12,774 employees5.
At the end of 2009, during the financial crisis, the firm was unable to refinance a short-term loan of $10 billion taken out to secure control of Volkswagen: the most profitable automotive firm was on the verge of bankruptcy. Thus, following a year-long tussle, Porsche was finally bought by Volkswagen
Porsche 356 Speedster.
Porsche’s first car was the Lohner-Porsche, a hybrid vehicle (petrol-electric) developed at the beginning of the 20th century by Ferdinand Porsche. This car caused a sensation when it was presented at the Paris World’s Fair in 19007. The second Porsche was the 64, available in 19388.
In 1933, Ferdinand Porsche responded to Hitler’s request and developed a democratic automobile model, which was marketed in 1938 as “Volkswagen”, “people’s car”. It is known in France as the Beetle.
The third model of Porsche was the 356, from 1948, which was a modified Volkswagen Beetle. It was built in Gmund, Austria, where the company had been evacuated in 1944, but which after building forty-nine cars returned to Zuffenhausen. Ferdinand died soon after and it was his son Ferry Porsche who took the reins. The last 356 were released with a flat four-cylinder totally designed by Porsche.
Negotiations and buyouts
Since September 2005, Porsche has decided to increase its share of the capital in Volkswagen, with which it has always maintained close ties (VW-Porsche 914, Audi RS2, Porsche 924). The Porsche Cayenne also shares its platform with the VW Touareg. This shareholding increased further in 2006 to 27.4% of the capital, with Porsche reserving the possibility of raising up to 29.9% (exceeding the 30% threshold would legally require it to launch a takeover bid). In the summer of 2006, Porsche obtained permission from the German state to take Volkswagen’s blocking minority, thus taking control9.
After passing 30% of the capital, the sports car brand was forced by stock market regulations to launch a takeover bid on the rest of the capital. But the deal failed, with Porsche deliberately offering too low a price. Since August 2007, the group has been trying to increase its stake in Volkswagen10. Porsche owned a 50.76% stake in Volkswagen as of January 6, 2009 and had announced plans to increase to 75% by the end of 200911.
In 2009, in attempting to acquire a controlling majority in Volkswagen, Porsche accumulated a large debt. It is unable to meet its financial commitments, as Volkswagen has seen its stock increase significantly over the previous year, allowing Porsche to make a significant profit on paper. Under German tax laws, Porsche must pay a tax on this capital gain, amount of money it does not own. In July 2009, Porsche accumulated debts in excess of 10 billion euros. To avoid bankruptcy, Porsche has agreed to the terms of the Qatar Investment Authority, which will inject a large amount into Porsche while forcing it to merge its activities with Volkswagen12,13,14,15. This merger is announced on July 5, 2012 and is effective August 1, 2012.16
Ferdinand’s grandson, Ferdinand Piach, was the executive chairman of Volkswagen, of which he is still the largest shareholder in 2009. The current one is Martin Winterkorn previously at Audi, with Piach having taken over as chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board (supervisory rather than management body).