Qatar will need to keep driving Porsche hard

August 14, 2009

Porsche (Reuters photo)It has taken a long time, but the Porsche clan is finally — and no doubt reluctantly — giving outsiders a say in how it runs the family firm.

The Porsche and Piech families — the descendents of Ferdinand Porsche –are selling a 10 percent voting stake in the Porsche holding company to Qatar in order to get them out of the financial mess they found themselves in when Porsche tried an audacious takeover of Volkswagen.

The Qatari investment is just one part of a complicated series of financial arrangements that are meant to lead to a merger of VW and Porsche in 2011.

As well as taking the stake, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is also stepping in to top up a loan to Porsche to the tune of 265 million euros and taking a huge package of cash-settled options on VW shares off Porsche’s hands.

This options package will give Qatar Holding LLC — the investment vehicle set up by the State of Qatar to make strategic and direct investments — access to a 17 percent stake in VW.

The Qataris are used to providing a helping hand when it is needed. They came to the rescue of British bank Barclays last year, picking up a stake which is now showing a hefty profit on paper.

Porsche may be a trophy asset, but Qatar should use its strong position to demand the kind of performance you’d expect from the marque.

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