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VW wins bidding war for RR!
VW drives off with Rolls-Royce
LONDON - Volkswagen won shareholder approval Friday to buy
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars for about $700 million, despite angry bursts
of nationalism from small investors who wanted to keep the luxury
Vickers, the corporation that owns Rolls-Royce, announced at the end
of a stormy meeting that investors had agreed to sell Rolls-Royce to
Volkswagen, Europe's biggest automaker.
Proxy votes and votes from big institutional shareholders appeared to
have been sufficiant to approve the deal, but Vickers held off the
announcement until it had counted ballots from smaller shareholders.
"Should I call it now a Rolls-wagen?" shareholder Rodney Crowe
asked during Vickers' special meeting.
Vickers shareholders first rejected a bid of about $554 million from
rival German automaker BMW.
Volkswagen faces potential hurdles at it moves to take over production
of luxury Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, which cost about $250,000
The jilted suitor, BMW, supplies some engines to Rolls-Royce and has
threatened to cut off deliveries. BMW spokesman Uwe Mahla said in
Munich that Friday's developments were "for us a very suprising
situation," and BMW sources said executives were holding an
Rolls-Royce PLC, a separate company that makes jet engines, controls
the brand name and logo and has made it clear it would rather see the
deal go to BMW, which happens to be its partner in a jet engine
Rolls-Royce PLC has not said whether it will negotiate with
Volkswagen or try to block its use of the brand name.
Asked about that, the Vickers chairman, Sir Colin Chandler, insisted
that a 25-year-old contract that would let Rolls-Roye PLC veto the
purchase of Rolls-Royce Motors Cars by a foreign buyer is legally
"The trademark can't go anywhere else," Chandler said. "We
exclusively own the radiator, the Flying Lady and Bentley."
But some shareholders expressed worries that the Rolls production line
could be halted by the dispute.
And at least one expressed disgust at the fight over a name that
epitomizes handmade British luxury.
"What are we going to have? A flying lady on the front of the Beetle?"
the shareholder Crowe said at the meeting.
"It's harmful for Rolls-Royce PLC and it's harmful for Vickers and they
don't seem to care," Carol Day said. "They're behaving like 6-year-old
The takeover announcement also was delayed by a Rolls-Royce
enthusiasts group, Crewe Motors, which claimed it was on the verge of
putting together an $815 million offer from private backers.
Its chairman, Michael Shrimpton, who has failed to put together
previous bids, forced Vickers to adjourn the meeting for nearly one
hour, but the Vickers chairman was unconvinced and refused any
By The Associated Press