Sweden’s government has held direct talks with Volkswagen AG, calling on the German automaker to safeguard jobs and development at Scania AB should it succeed in its bid to acquire all the shares in the Swedish truckmaker.
The government also held discussions with Scania after Volkswagen offered 6.7 billion euros ($9.2 billion) for the stock it doesn’t already own in Soedertaelje, Sweden-based Scania, Finance Minister Anders Borg said in an interview yesterday in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
“If the deal goes through we’d want to follow closely that they behave like long-term responsible owners,” Borg said. “Scania is strong and should stay strong. They must invest in research and development and they must stay aggressive in the market so they must defend the jobs in Sweden.”
Borg’s comments echo concerns in Soedertaelje, where Scania employs more than 9,000 people and is the largest private job provider, that losing the company’s Swedish minority shareholders may allow VW to move production and cut jobs. VW’s Chief Financial Officer Hans Dieter Poetsch said on Feb. 21 that Scania will keep its headquarters in Sweden and remain an independent brand within the Volkswagen group.
“It’s important that the owners realize how incredibly important Scania is for Soedertaelje and Sweden,” Boel Godner, the mayor of Scania’s hometown, said on Feb. 22. “Every event involving Scania creates worries until we know what kind of changes they may lead to. Scania is of enormous importance to Soedertaelje and for the Swedish export industry.”
VW, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, is pushing for Scania, MAN SE and its own commercial vehicles unit to cooperate more closely to challenge truck-industry leaders Daimler AG and Volvo AB. VW values the two heavy-truck brands at a combined 29.3 billion euros, based on offers to Scania and MAN shareholders. VW and MAN together already own 62.6 percent of the equity and 89.2 percent of the voting rights in Scania.
“Scania is a good company and has been a successful trucking company in Sweden and globally over the years,” Borg said. “We want to see production remaining in Sweden, we want to see research and development remain in Sweden and we will closely follow what is happening with the company.”