BERLIN, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Germany’s liberal Free Democrats (FDP) on Wednesday urged the state of Lower Saxony to sell its stake in Volkswagen, citing the risk of conflicts of interest weakening the region’s oversight of the scandal-hit carmaker.
Lower Saxony, which owns a fifth of Volkswagen’s voting rights, holds an election on Oct. 15 in which Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives are forecast to win and to most likely form a coalition government with the FDP.
“The state should completely privatise VW,” FDP leader Christian Lindner told the Handelsblatt newspaper in remarks published on Wednesday. “This is our liberal conviction.”
Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) have criticised their Social Democrat (SPD) rivals who govern Lower Saxony for not being tough enough on VW.
However, the SPD are unlikely to heed FDP’s call to sell the state’s stake in the carmaker, which provides more than 100,000 jobs to its economy.
Lower Saxony owns about 59 million shares in VW worth more than 7.6 billion euros as of Tuesday’s closing price, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Lindner also urged the federal government to sell its 31.9 percent stake in Deutsche Telekom and 21 percent share in Deutsche Post.
The FDP has long opposed state ownership of listed companies but the SPD and CDU have always rejected its calls for privatisation. (Reporting by Joseph Nasr; editing by Jason Neely)