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BMW investor Susanne Klatten ups SGL stake to stymie VW

Germany’s richest woman, BMW (BMWG.DE) investor Susanne Klatten, has secured a blocking stake in SGL Group (SGCG.DE) to keep Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) at bay in a tussle over carbon fibre technology.

SGL said on Wednesday that Klatten, heiress to the fortune of German industrialist Herbert Quandt, raised her stake in the company to 27.3 percent, giving her the right to veto strategic decisions, and aimed to lift it to about 29 percent over the next 12 months, up from 22 percent previously.

  • Now holds 27.3 percent, up from about 22 percent
  • Bigger stake gives Klatten blocking minority
  • Klatten investment vehicle says no plans for full takeover
  • SGL Carbon shares gain 6.6 percent

SGL shares were up 6.6 percent at 35.88 euros by 1100 GMT at the top of a flat German midcap index .MDAXI.

Klatten, whose estimated $15 billion fortune made her the target of a blackmail plot in 2007, holds 12.6 percent in BMW, while the Quandt family owns a combined 46.7 percent of the carmaker.

In October 2009, SGL struck a cooperation deal with BMW on lightweight carbon parts for its i3 electric vehicle, also known as the MegaCity project, a few months after Klatten emerged as a major shareholder in SGL.

SGL has since said it does not rule out collaboration agreements with other carmakers.

Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker, in February surprised the market and Klatten by acquiring an 8 percent stake SGL.

That prompted Klatten to announce she was observing VW’s actions with vigilance and could easily get a blocking minority stake in SGL if needed, a pledge she has now made good on. [ID:nWEB2418]

The use of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP), which are 30 percent lighter than aluminum and 50 percent lighter than steel, is one of the hottest trends in the car industry’s drive to lower its carbon-dioxide emissions.

VW reiterated on Wednesday that it currently had no plans to raise its SGL stake beyond 10 percent.

A spokesman for Klatten said her investment vehicle SKion currently had no plans for a full takeover of SGL but the SGL itself said on Wednesday that SKion would continue to influence the appointment of top executives and directors.

The car sector’s main challenge to use CFRP in mass market vehicles will be to drive down production costs, which have so far limited use of carbon parts to the most expensive sports cars, such as Volkswagen’s Lamborghini brand.

BMW’s domestic rival Daimler (DAIGn.DE) set up a CFRP joint venture with Toray Industries (3402.T).

Unlike BMW, who is eyeing a mass market in urban areas, Daimler will start in a high-end niche, its convertible coupe SL class.

Volkswagen’s VW brand has used the material for a ultra-fuel-efficient prototype — introduced in January — that uses less than a liter of petrol for 100 kilometers.

VW’s premium-car unit Audi in February retained unlisted German industrial conglomerate Voith to develop carbon fibre reinforced components. Voith, in turn, is SGL’s third-largest shareholder with a stake of about 5 percent. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Frank Siebelt; Editing by Will Waterman)

- Reuters

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