March 18 (Bloomberg) -- Porsche Automobil Holding SE plans to spend the bulk of its 2.61 billion-euro ($3.64 billion) cash pile on acquisitions beyond its controlling stake in Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest carmaker.
The holding company looked at more than 24 potential takeover targets last year, though terms didn’t warrant any agreement, and Porsche “is not willing to pay any price” when investing, Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said today at a press conference near headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Even so, it’s “only a matter of time” before the company announces a deal.
Porsche SE’s only directly held asset is 50.7 percent of the common stock in Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen following the 2012 sale of the Porsche AG sports-car and sport-utility vehicle brand to VW that settled a takeover dispute. Porsche reiterated that it plans purchases “along the automotive value chain.” Areas of interest include drivetrains, material and safety technology, as well as sustainability, Winterkorn said.
“We’re operating in a very demanding market environment for strategic investments,” said Winterkorn, who’s also Volkswagen’s CEO. “There’s a lot of liquidity in the market, so valuations are currently very high.”
Profit after tax dropped to 2.41 billion euros last year from 7.94 billion euros in 2012, Porsche said. Net liquidity at the end of December rose to 2.61 billion euros from 2.56 billion euros a year earlier. The company plans to keep the dividend unchanged at 2.01 euros per preferred share, the stock that trades publicly. Profit this year will total 2.2 billion euros to 2.7 billion euros, Winterkorn said.
Investment plans won’t be hampered by Volkswagen investors’ lawsuits against Porsche stemming from the sports-car manufacturer’s bid in 2008 to buy the automaker, Hans Dieter Poetsch, chief financial officer of both companies, told journalists.
Porsche scored a victory yesterday when the Stuttgart Regional Court dismissed a 1.4 billion-euro suit filed by 23 hedge funds claiming the company lied during the acquisition effort. Other cases involving investors are pending in Braunschweig, Germany, near Volkswagen’s home city, and in the U.S. Poetsch said the holding company “will continue to use all legal means” to defend itself.
“We consider all pending claims against Porsche SE, its supervisory board members and former members of its executive board to be without merit,” and the U.S. cases “also to be legally insufficient,” the CFO said.
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