Suzuki says would reject VW stake increase

 @ibtimes on January 21 2010 11:03 AM

TOKYO- Suzuki Motor Corp CEO Osamu Suzuki said on Thursday he would probably refuse any approach by German carmaker Volkswagen for a bigger stake in his company.

When Suzuki becomes a bigger and more successful company, Volkswagen will probably want to buy more of our shares, Suzuki told a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

If that happens, Suzuki will probably respond by saying, 'Let's continue as we are', he said.

Many industry watchers expect Volkswagen, Europe's top automaker, to eventually plan to build a controlling or majority stake in Suzuki as it aims to topple Toyota Motor Corp as the world's biggest carmaker by 2018.

A Volkswagen spokesman in Germany said VW had no plans at this stage to increase its stake in its Japanese partner.

Suzuki has said he does not want the company founded by his wife's grandfather to become a 12th Volkswagen brand, and that he considered the comprehensive equity alliance completed this month to be one between equal partners.

If we fight over the size of the stake, it would do no good for either Volkswagen or Suzuki, so I don't expect there to be an altercation over this, he said.

Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech has said he would like to see Europe's biggest carmaker grow to include 12 brands, up from the 10 it will have once it absorbs the Porsche sports car marque.

Piech uses his ties with industrial families like the Wallenbergs in Sweden and the Suzukis now to expand strategic stakes in companies like Scania, sometimes many years after holding a minority interest.

Piech, also the chairman of German truckmaker MAN, has dropped several hints that MAN is on his radar screen as he tries to revive plans for a three-way truck alliance with Swedish unit Scania. VW owns just under 30 percent of MAN's voting shares.

 (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Christiaan Hetzner )

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