Norway's oil fund, which owns $460 million in Volkswagen shares, has accused the Porsche family, who control VW and Porsche, of pushing through a takeover that is in the family's rather than the company's interest.
In an open letter to Fredinand Piech (pictured), chairman of the VW board and member of the founding Porsche family, the fund said: "The planned transactions leave the impression of being designed to suit the needs of the Porsche controlling families at the expense of Volkswagen and its non-controlling owners."
The letter particularly questions the financial validity of the deal: "The market seems to judge that Volkswagen currently plans to pay a rich price for those assets (Porsche). This is remarkable at a time when Porsche SE is more in need of the transaction than Volkswagen," it said. They also accuse the families of a "lack of transparency" and of imposing "unnecessary risk to non-controlling and non-insider investors".
"Unless the supervisory board takes steps to alleviate our concerns we see little reason to support the execution of the proposed transactions. As an investor we will consider the options open to us in this respect," the letter concluded. It did not expand on what the fund considered those options to be.
The terms of the takeover were announced in August and, after months of negotiations, it was agreed that VW would pay €3.3 billion for a 42% stake in Porsche. (Click here to read out coverage of the story)
Merger talks between the two companies began in May, however they were fraught with difficulties and public disputes and at times looked unlikely to go ahead. It was not until the resignation of Porsche's CEO Wendelin Wiedeking in July that the takeover gained momentum. (Click here to read out coverage of Wiedeking's resignation)
Porsche is controlled by Wolfgang Porsche, Piech's cousin, and originally envisioned his smaller company could takeover VW. Porsche began building shares in VW, however the ambitious plans took the company into €10 billion of debt and left Porsche needing the help of his cousin to save the family business.
The deal is expected to be fully concluded by 2011.
Want to get the latest family business/family office news direct to your desktop? Click here to register to receive our weekly newsletter
Are you a member of a multigenerational family business or family office? Click here to subscribe to our magazines