Isuzu Motors Ltd. (7202) surged the most in four weeks in Tokyo after Volkswagen AG (VOW) said it won’t decide soon on whether to take a stake in Japan’s largest maker of light trucks.
Isuzu, 5.9 percent owned by Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), rose as much as 9.6 percent, the most on an intraday basis since March 16, and changed hands 5.8 percent higher at 309 yen as of the 11 a.m. trading break. Volkswagen gained 1.3 percent to 103.51 euros in Frankfurt trading yesterday.
Europe’s largest automaker is considering taking a stake or purchasing Isuzu outright, Germany’s Manager Magazin reported yesterday, without citing anyone. Board member Jochem Heizmann held talks with Isuzu and visited production sites, the magazine said. VW won’t make a decision soon on whether to take a stake and declined to comment on other details, said a spokesman who asked not to be identified, in line with company policy.
“It’s hard to understand when we consider Toyota and Isuzu’s business partnership,” said Tatsuya Mizuno, a director at Mizuno Credit Advisory in Tokyo. “Isuzu is playing a role in Toyota’s group, and VW taking a stake doesn’t seem to make sense.”
There is no truth in reports that Volkswagen will take a stake in Isuzu, the truckmaker said in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange today. While Isuzu recognizes the value of tie- ups with other companies, it hasn’t heard from VW about plans to buy its shares or form other kinds of alliances, spokesman Eiji Mitsuhashi said today.
Volkswagen also discussed the possibility of MAN SE (MAN) acquiring a holding in Isuzu, Manager Magazin said. German truckmaker MAN is 29.9 percent owned by Wolfsburg, Germany-based VW, according to Bloomberg data. Stefan Straub, a spokesman for MAN, declined to comment on the report.
VW is aiming to complete a merger with Porsche SE after purchasing 49.9 percent of the company’s carmaking unit. Volkswagen also paid $2.5 billion in January 2010 for a 19.9 percent stake in Suzuki Motor Corp. to jointly develop vehicles for emerging markets as it seeks to topple Toyota as the global leader by 2018.
Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. is the largest Isuzu shareholder with a 9.2 percent stake. The truckmaker’s share price more than doubled in 2010, making it the best performer in the Nikkei 225 Stock Average, according to Bloomberg data.
Hino Motors Ltd., Toyota’s truckmaking unit, fell as much as 4.2 percent and was down 1.8 percent at 374 yen as of 11 a.m.
Toyota bought a 44 billion yen ($527 million) stake in Isuzu in November 2006 to cooperate on small diesel-engine development, buying 100 million shares from trading companies Mitsubishi and Itochu Corp. Isuzu was formerly a partner of General Motors Corp., which sold its 7.9 percent stake in April 2006, ending a 35-year capital alliance.
Ferdinand Piech, supervisory board chairman of Volkswagen and MAN, has said he wants to bolster VW with additional brands and mentioned Fiat Industrial SpA’s Alfa Romeo unit as a possible target to add to marques that include Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley. Porsche will become Volkswagen’s 10th brand.
Talks between MAN and Swedish rival Scania AB on ways to cooperate and possibly combine are being held up by bribery investigations at Munich-based MAN, Piech said on Feb. 28.
Volkswagen Chief Financial Officer Hans Dieter Poetsch said at the Geneva auto show in March that VW’s priority was the merger with Porsche and completion of a related 5 billion-euro ($7.2 billion) stock sale.