German car maker Volkswagen took a further step towards merging with Porsche when it announced on Wednesday that it would buy Porsche Holding, a leading European car seller.
The sale was a clear sign that the holding's current owners, the Piech and Porsche families, are committed to integrating Volkswagen and Porsche, Volkswagen said.
The automotive dynasties agreed Wednesday to sell their Austria-based holding for 3.3 billion euros ($4.5 billion), and to transfer ownership until the end of September 2011 at the latest.
The deal had been planned since last year.
Volkswagen bought about half of Porsche's sports car business in 2009, but has yet to untangle the complex share arrangements to create a unified group.
Porsche Holding is Europe's biggest privately-ownded car seller, marketing Volkswagen brands and Porsche in Western Europe, South-Eastern Europe and China.
The company with 20,300 employees sold 421,000 vehicles in the 2009/10 business year, creating revenues of 12.2 billion euros.