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Suzuki chief promises ‘truth’ in Volkswagen row

November 30, 2011

TOKYO, November 30, 2011 (AFP) – Suzuki Motor’s chairman said Wednesday he was willing to appear at the International Court of Arbitration to reveal the “truth” about the Japanese automaker’s bitter row with Volkswagen.

The comments from Osamu Suzuki come after it sought arbitration with the London-based court last week to end a messy marriage with the German firm, demanding it sell back its stake in Suzuki by November 2012.

The pair formed their ill-fated 1.7 billion euro ($2.26 billion) tie-up in 2009.

“I was the one who negotiated this deal, so of course I myself will get to the front and talk about the truth (at the court),” Suzuki told reporters at the Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday.

Speaking at his firm’s booth just steps from the German auto giant’s concession, the outspoken Suzuki added: “There is only one truth, and I will testify on that.”

Asked whether he expects his company to emerge victorious in court, Suzuki said: “No sumo wrestler gets in the ring thinking he would lose.”

Volkswagen has repeatedly refused to accept demands to sell its 19.89 percent stake in Suzuki back to the Japanese small-car maker or to a third party it designates.

Suzuki planned to seek support from Volkswagen in hybrid technologies and other eco-friendly areas, while the German firm hoped to jointly develop small cars for emerging markets by taking advantage of Suzuki’s know-how.

But they made little progress and halted their joint projects.

The Japanese automaker in September said it wanted to end the alliance, citing a deep disagreement over collaboration and complained that its partner failed to provide promised access to technologies.

Ahead of Suzuki’s move towards ending the tie-up, relations had become frayed as Volkswagen served notice of an alleged infringement relating to the supply of diesel engines to Suzuki from Italian carmaker Fiat.

The German automaker said it “categorically” rejected having “broken or not lived up to, in any way, the cooperation agreement”.

-AFP


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