While Porsche has been gobbling up stake in Volkswagen for about a year, a little piece of legislation called the VW Law has been the only thing preventing the sports car builder from gobbling up the giant German automaker. Currently Porsche holds a 31% stake in VW, but with news today of the European Court striking down the VW Law, many expect the company to quickly increase its stake to a controlling 51%.
The VW Law itself dates back to 1960, and while a bit complicated to understand, basically stipulates that 80% shareholder approval is required to pass major decisions and regardless of how much stake a single entity holds, its voting block cannot be greater than 20%. Since the company's home state of Lower Saxony owns 20.1% of VW, it alone holds the power to influence the company's decision making. Under the VW Law, it has held the power to block any decision that would threaten its jobs and local economy. Thus, Porsche's desire to own a controlling stake in VW has been blocked by Lower Saxony as well as its inability to use the full force of its 31% stake in voting.
Porsche has been very patient so far, and will apparently remain so a little longer. It is not expected to increase its stake in VW before the end of the year, but everyone seems fully aware that today's historic news means that the company will sooner or be controlled by Porsche.
[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]