Volkswagen AG has closed its purchase of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd., but it remains unclear if the German auto giant can use the luxury car's brand name and trademark.
Volkswagen, Europe's biggest carmaker, paid 479 million pounds, or $780 million, to close the deal after beating out an offer from rival BMW for the auto company that epitomizes handmade British craftsmanship.But Rolls-Royce PLC, a London-based jet engine maker, said it still controls the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo under a deal struck when the two Rolls-Royce companies were separated in the 1970s.
Volkswagen may have bought the Rolls-Royce factory in Crewe, England, but it still has no deal to use the brand name, according to Rolls-Royce PLC.
The engine maker would not say whether it would try to block Volkswagen's use of the name or whether it might try to force the German company to pay for the right. Rolls-Royce PLC spokesman Martin Brodie said the companies have not had any detailed discussions.
"We attach the greatest importance to the preservation and protection of the Rolls-Royce name and trademarks as key assets of our business, and we'll take whatever action is necessary and appropriate," Brodie said.
Vickers PLC, the British engineering group that sold Rolls-Royce, has said the old deal giving Rolls-Royce PLC the right to veto a foreign purchase of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is unenforceable under current European Union law.
Volkswagen clinched the purchase last month when Vickers shareholders approved its bid of 430 million pounds over BMW's offer of 340 million pounds.
The final price was higher. Both bidders had agreed to pay Vickers a bit extra on closing to account for an increase in the value of assets at Rolls-Royce since the first of the year.
Vickers had come under sharp attack from small shareholders who were outraged last month to see their beloved Rolls-Royce cars being sold off to the Germans.
Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech said he was "committed to building this business in a manner consistent with its character and heritage."
Volkswagen and Vickers said they hoped soon to close a related deal to buy the Cosworth engine-making company, which is needed because shunned bidder BMW terminated an earlier deal to supply engines for some Rolls-Royce cars.
Rolls-Royce PLC had favored a sale to BMW, which is its partner in an unrelated jet engine venture.