2009 was an extraordinary year for Volkswagen. The financial and economic crisis put the automotive industry to the test. In this environment, the Volkswagen Group not only kept its course and mastered the crisis considerably better than many of its competitors; we also set important strategic milestones. For example, we got the integrated group with Porsche off to a good start. Through our partnership with Suzuki, we are unlocking promising growth prospects, especially in the microcar segment and in Asia.
Our key figures underscore the strength and resilience of our business model: Bucking the general trend, the Volkswagen Group increased vehicle sales by 1.3 percent to 6.3 million units and thus achieved a new . Our share of the global passenger car market advanced to 11.3 percent. And, in spite of the crisis in the sector, we generated a clearly positive of €1.9 billion. In the light of this, we are proposing a of €1.60 for ordinary shares and €1.66 for preferred shares.
Our success is not least based on a stable with a long-term focus. We are pleased that Qatar Holding has become Volkswagen’s third major shareholder. In response to the changed shareholder structure, Volkswagen preferred shares replaced ordinary shares in the DAX in December 2009. We are planning to issue new preferred shares as part of a capital increase in the first half of 2010. This measure will give us the necessary financial flexibility to grow the integrated automotive group. In addition – even after all transactions for the merger with Porsche have been completed – this will safeguard adequate liquidity, a healthy financing structure and our rating, which compares extremely well with the rest of the sector.
The Volkswagen Group is a strong and forward-looking automobile manufacturer. A solid financial base, our growing presence in all major global markets, our multibrand strategy and one of the youngest, most environmentally-friendly and broadest vehicle ranges in the sector are the unique strengths of our Group. They are and will remain the foundation for profitable growth. Another factor is that we can build on a highly qualified and motivated team. My colleagues on the Board of Management and I would like to express our thanks to all for their good work and commitment.
The automotive business offers excellent prospects for the medium term. However, 2010 will be another difficult year for our sector. The Volkswagen Group has secured an excellent position, on which it will continue to build. For example, we will be launching more than in the current year. Based on this large number of fascinating and efficient vehicles, the Group will systematically expand its position in the global markets. In doing so, it will remain our objective to continue to outperform the competition.
At the same time, we will make targeted investments in our future: in attractive models, new plants in the growth regions and innovative, environmentally-friendly technologies. From highly efficient combustion engines to alternative drives such as hybrids and electric traction – our Company must lead the way in all these fields.
Our long-term goal is defined in our : to turn the Volkswagen Group into the world’s leading automaker by 2018 – economically and ecologically. We are asking you, our shareholders, to continue to accompany us along this path. I am sure that Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft will remain a company worth investing in. Now more than ever.
Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn