The president of lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, has been sounding out other major Volkswagen shareholders with a view to forming an alliance to prevent Porsche from gaining increased control of the company.

According to The Financial Times, investors are focusing on the next annual meeting at the end of April, when supervisory board chairman Ferdinand Piech, is due to step down.

At last year’s meeting Piech and Wulff agreed that neither party, Volkswagen’s largest shareholders, would seek to become chairman, but that they would allow a third party to fulfil the role.

However, it now appears that Piech may be unwilling to stand down and, according to the FT, Wulff has scheduled a number of meetings early next year with institutional investors, presumably to try to form a united front against Piech.

Such investors may include Union Investment, Deka and DWS and Hermes from the UK, which reportedly spoke out against Piech at the annual meeting this year.

The Financial Times said that Wulff may not yet have made up his mind about Porsche. Wulff himself is up for re-election in 2008, it may be politically more acceptable to reach a compromise with the sports car manufacturer, than to start a full-scale war, which Wulff may indeed lose.

Separately an FT report last Saturday said that Porsche may already control more than 30% of shares at Volkswagen. The article cites information from analysts at investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort. If the 30% threshold is reached, Porsche would be required to launch a full take-over offer for Volkswagen.