Porsche Slams Rover Subsidies; Chief in 'Unfair Competition' Claim
Duckers, John, The Birmingham Post (England)
The boss of German sportscar maker Porsche yesterday chose the group's first-half results to take another swipe at UK subsidies for Rover.
Porsche chairman Mr Wendelin Wiedeking is to take the matter up with the European Commission, claiming unfair competition.
Mr Wiedeking, who had previously indicated he would seek to oppose cash aid for Rover, is unhappy with indications that the troubled car-maker could get up to pounds 200 million, half from Britain and half from Europe.
He plans to send a protest letter this week to Competition Commissioner Mr Karel Van Miert.
Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show, Mr Wiedeking said to offer "such a gift" to Rover was not part of fair competition. "I cannot stand by and ignore that a subsidy will be given. A letter will be sent to Van Miert this week," Mr Wiedeking said, adding: "This practice should stop."
He said the issue should also be seen in the context of the over-capacity that exists worldwide in the car industry.
Mr Wiedeking said he did not "see any reason why any company should get money from any government".
"Legally, the UK is allowed to do this," he said, referring to subsidies for companies, but added: "It is a question of unfair competition".
Porsche said pre-tax profits more than doubled in the first six months of the year, but stuck by previous conservative sales forecasts for the year as a whole.
In the six months to January 31 profits came in at pounds 69 million from pounds 28 million a year earlier. After-tax profit also jumped during the first half to pounds 40.7 million from pounds 24.2 million as sales grew 30 per cent to pounds 885 million.
Mr Wiedeking said Porsche would increase output this year to 40,000 cars from around 38,000.
"For the 1998/9 fiscal year we predict - wind and weather permitting - further increases in sales, turnover and profit, and group turnover of more than pounds 1.9 billion," he said. …