A newly cash-rich Daimler may be looking to buy a piece of Porsche, following Porsche's failed takeover of VW.
Daimler is reportedly negotiating to purchase either a percentage of Porsche, or Volkswagen, from Porsche Automobil Holding SE, according to German website manager-magazin.de. The news outlet says Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and Porsche chief Wendelin Wiedeking have been in talks since last May.
After Porsche purchased 51% of VW's common shares, they attempted a complete takeover of Europe's largest automaker. Porsche has about €9 billion in debt tied to the deal, leading to a limited supply of liquid cash needed to keep operations running.
The plan was to refinance the debt using Volkswagen's higher level of cash, but the economy took a dive along with the auto industry. When the plan backfired, Porsche reportedly sought financial assistance from VW in what is seen as an embarrasing turn of events for the luxury sports car manufacturer. Porsche is also in talks to sell up to 30% of their company to the Qatar Investment Authority. They have requested a bridge loan from the German government to cover the cost of operations until that deal is finalized, but reports have surfaced suggesting the government denied that request.
Enter Daimler, which is fresh off the sale of 9.1% of their company to the Abu Dhabi-backed International Petroleum Investment Company. Daimler walked away with €2 billion from that deal, with the potential for the Arab firm to increase their stake in exchange for more cash.
That access to capital could put Daimler in a position to help bailout Porsche. Reportedly, one option on the table include Daimler acquiring a percentage of Porsche in exchange for cash, but a more complicated situation may be more appealing to both sides. Porsche may be willing to sell forward contracts of Volkswagen shares to Daimler based on a future price of VW, with Daimler paying cash up front. There are many other forms of derivatives the two companies could be discussing.
Manager-magazin.de quoted a source confirming the talks, but saying "we are nowhere near close to a deal."
Treading waters with Porsche could be seen as more appealing to Daimler than the failed merger with Chrysler. Daimler had been unwilling to share technologies with the American volume car manufacturer, but would likely not run into that problem with Porsche as both firms focus on their own lower volume performance vehicles.
Media relations for Porsche denied knowledge of the negotiations, while a Daimler representative called the rumors "pure speculation." Volkswagen refused comment on the story.