VolksWagen German-owned no more? Europe’s largest carmaker could become a target for hostile takeover if a European Commission lawsuit succeeds.
Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein says a 1960 law that lets VW’s home state of Lower Saxony control the firm with a minority stake breaks EU investment rules. “Unfortunately, now we have to go to court because the German government has not changed its position; It is my duty to try to uphold the European law, and that is what I am doing. The fact that we are near the end of our mandate has nothing to do with it.” Lower Saxony’s state premier Christian Wulff insists the law works within EU rules. He say it is not prejudiced in any shareholder’s favour and that there is no discrimination. Bolkestein rejects ‘job protection’ as a defence for keeping the law, saying that just “reeks of old-fashioned economic thinking”. VW has been the worst performer in the European car sector this year.