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Porsche SE targets profit jump as shareholder shake-up looms

FILE PHOTO: The logo of German carmaker Porsche is seen on a Porsche centre in Niederwangen, Switzerland, May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich/File Photo

By Andreas Cremer

STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters) - Porsche SE (PSHG_p.DE), the majority shareholder in Volkswagen (VW), expects its profits to jump this year as the world's biggest carmaker presses on with a revamp of its business following a diesel emissions scandal.

Porsche SE, which represents VW's (VOWG_p.DE) founding Porsche and Piech families and controls 52.2 percent of the automaker's voting shares, said on Tuesday it made a 1.37 billion-euro ($1.48 billion) net profit last year and expected earnings to climb to between 2.1-3.1 billion euros in 2017.

At the same time, the holding company faces a major shake-up as patriarch Ferdinand Piech negotiates with other family members over the potential sale of a major part of his 14.7 percent stake in Porsche SE.

Porsche SE CEO Hans Dieter Poetsch, who is also the chairman of VW's supervisory board, said he had no update on the talks.

"We have absolutely no idea where the talks stand," he told journalists at a news conference. "We cannot even say whether there will be a result."

If Piech were to sell his stake, it would mark the end of an era for VW where the 79-year-old spent almost 22 years at the helm, including nine as CEO, before resigning as chairman in 2015 following a power struggle with then CEO Martin Winterkorn.

An industrial scion and engineer, Piech transformed VW from a regional player into a global powerhouse that owns the Bentley, Bugatti, Skoda, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Audi brands.

Poetsch said the VW group - which last month posted a record underlying annual profit - was in a robust state, which would help Porsche SE this year.

The holding firm's net liquidity - cash and cash equivalents - should come in between 1.0 billion and 1.5 billion euros in 2017, after 1.3 billion last year, and the company said it could also borrow capital to fund investments in other companies.

It bought a 10-percent stake in U.S. traffic intelligence company Inrix in 2014 for $55 million, but said on Tuesday the value of that investment was cut to 21 million euros last year after Inrix missed 2016 business targets.

Prior to the investment in Inrix, Porsche also purchased a stake in Suzuki Motor Corp <7269.T>. But these represent rare deals among the 1,200 investment opportunities it has examined over the past five years.

"We are no speculators," said Poetsch.

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter)