July 24th, 2009
08:04 AM GMT
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BERLIN, Germany – The takeover war between Volkswagen and Porsche is playing out almost like a Shakespearean Drama. At the heart are two of Germany’s most well known and yet most reclusive industrial families - the Porsches and the Piechs, who incidentally belong to the same family line.

It began with Ferdinand Porsche, the German engineering genius who constructed the first Volkswagen, known at first as the KdF car, and then later as the VW Beetle. Porsche had several children, but two would come to define the family rift we are all now seeing.

Ferry Porsche would go on to manage the Porsche Engineer Bureau and oversee the construction of Porsche’s first own sports car, while Louise Porsche went on to marry Anton Piech and keep a high stake in the then fledgling Volkswagen Auto Company.

Fast forward to today and the main players are cousins Wolfgang Porsche, Ferry' son, who heads the supervisory board of Porsche SE, and Ferdinand Piech, Louise's son, who is at the helm of the Volkswagen board. Both men are involved in both companies, but Piech has been busy building the VW Empire while Wolfgang Porsche oversaw the rise of the tiny sports car maker to one of the most efficient car manufacturers in the world.

Then came Wendelin Wiediking, CEO of Porsche, who had the idea of attempting a hostile takeover. The tiny Porsche would try to take a majority stake in Volkswagen, the largest car company in Europe. Just to put this in perspective, Volkswagen turns out more vehicles a week than Porsche does in a whole year.

The deal failed and Porsche was left with massive debt of more than $10 billion, and now is when Ferdinand Piech saw his chance.

Piech gathered his friends in German politics and applied pressure on his cousin Wolfgang Porsche. After a long battle, Wolfgang conceded defeat. Porsche will probably merge with VW, thus losing much of its famed independence.

There is however some consolation in all this for Wolfgang Porsche. While he lost his top manager Wendelin Wiedeking and has allowed his company to fall into the fangs of Volkswagen, under the new management structure the Porsche and Piech families would hold more than 50 per cent of Volkswagen AG - and thus become more powerful and richer than ever before. Making this possibly one of the most profitable family feuds of all time.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Talal

    Wishing one day, VW family puts back some of the lost muscle heritage of old Porsches back into the Stud car maker. Current production cars at Porsche have gone far from its powerfull/aggresive roots, in terms of looks/appeal.

    July 24, 2009 at 9:59 am |
  2. Vikki

    I am a Porsche lover, complete loyalty to the product. I owned a 9 Porsche Boxster, great car, fun, leaked oil though, made me crazy, then I purchased what I call a "REAL" Porsche an 06 Porsche Carrera straight from the factory with the options I wanted, waited patiently and so excited for it to arrive. My Carrera has never disappointed me. I do all the Porsche drives joining PCNA. The Carrera is a blast , totally well made and I wont live without a Porsche in my lifetime, upgrading every few years. I actually bought for a drive around town car a black 08 VW Beetle and love that car so much, its been totally problem free and it drives solid and feels good. I guess my only concern if the companies merge or theres a takeover...is that.. Porsches are still made only with genuine porsche parts and not downgraded in any way what so ever. Porsche will always be my brand of choice. No Beemers or Mecedes for me, CAN YOU SO boring...Please keep Porsches pure, and the same killer car that they have always been...No one wants to worry about parts being downgraded.

    July 24, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  3. Onno Frowein

    Wiedeking saved Porsche from bankruptcy 16 years ago and made the family Porsche billionaires. He was also the best paid manager of Europe because he never received any stock options. Therefore, an alarm clock should have started to ring for Wiedeking. His 'golden' hand shake of € 50 million is peanuts in comparison to American managers, many of whom do not show a track record like the one of Wiedeking. So he deserves any Euro he got.
    Now let's look at Ferdinand Piëch besides marrying into money – the Porsche family – his performances have been questionable to say the least, but his ambitions are bigger than his small personality. As a result he chases away a lot of capable people at VW. In addition he managed with intrigues and fear rather than leadership since his managerial skills were insufficient to be CEO of a multinational like VW.
    Then comes Wiedeking who has proven his managerial capabilities and now wants to go after the job of Piëch and VW. This was a 'wake-up' call for Piëch and he turned against his brother-in-law Ferry Porsche to ge rid of Wiedeking and he, Piëch, would save Porsche by taking it over by VW to prevent that the € 10 biilion debt would endanger the future of Porsche and also the fortunes of the Porsche family.
    As a Porsche fan who used to drive this beautiful driving machine in the past I regret that this unique vehicle will be taken over by a mass-car-manufacturer. I also feel sorry for the 5000 Porsche employees who took pride to make such a beautiful piece of art. After a take-over by VW, Porsche will not be the same anymore.

    July 24, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  4. Rowny J.Vidot

    famous saying " the greater the wealth the thicker the dirt"

    July 25, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  5. pinkpanther

    ferdinand prosche should have made the succession more clearer ealier in the day by nominating only the male line to handle all automobile businesses. The outsider should be kept out of the family business.
    All of history has showed that inherited wealth and knowledge has successfully been in the same family for generations when it is the male line that carries the torch forward.The far exception being the absence of a male heir then only would the daughter become the "male" heir :)

    I agree it is a shame that a beautifull sports car becomes part of a portfolio of a mass automotive manufacturer.

    July 28, 2009 at 5:06 am |
  6. Eisengrau

    Don't worry about Porsche cars.

    VW manages some high profile deluxe brands (Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti) without destroying the essence of these brands.

    I think they would let the Porsche concept live on as it i,s it would be foolish not to maintain the Porsche quality.

    August 23, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  7. Aidan Webb

    Well, Family Feud is actually a classic game that traces back wayback in the 80's i guess. It is a nice game anyway.".-

    May 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
  8. Maisie Marshall

    "Family Feud" was a great game show in the old days, now we have "who wants to be a millionaire";:*

    August 13, 2010 at 1:08 am |
  9. used porsche parts

    Great post, I read your post.
    Porsche is surely a dream car of many people. It is one of the most luxurious cars in the market.

    September 21, 2010 at 11:15 am |

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