BERLIN (AP) -- Volkswagen AG says it has taken over Porsche's automobile trading business, taking another step toward a full merger of the two companies.
Volkswagen said the planned acquisition of Porsche Holding Salzburg's operating business, worth €3.3 billion ($4.5 billion), took effect Tuesday. The unit's headquarters will remain in the Austrian city.
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said PHS is "one of the world's most efficient and profitable automobile trading companies and will therefore significantly strengthen the Volkswagen group's sales activities."
Porsche accumulated huge debts trying to take over Volkswagen in 2009. Volkswagen eventually rescued its much smaller peer and plans to take full control.
Volkswagen now holds 49.9 percent of Porsche.