A potential merger between Porsche and Volkswagen AG looks to have taken a big step forward after it was announced that Porsche's chief executive, Wendelin Wiedeking, is to leave the company.
Mr Wiedeking, 56, who was vehemently opposed to the merger, and chief financial officer Holger Haerter will leave the luxury car manufacturer with immediate effect.
It is thought this could clear the way for VW to buy 49% of the heavily indebted firm. The move is made more likely by the fact that VW chairman Ferdinand Piech, who is known to be in favour of the merger, is part of the family that controls Porsche.
Wolfsburg-based VW, Europe's biggest car maker by sales, has not yet commented on the moves at Porsche.
Christian Wulff, the governor of the German state of Lower Saxony, which holds about 21% of VW, has called for the two companies to co-operate with each other.
He said: "We'll set off together to become the number one in the world."
Copyright © Press Association 2009