BERLIN -- Former Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech is in talks to sell his stake in Porsche Automobil Holding SE in a deal that would shake up the ownership structure of the company that controls Volkswagen Group.
Porsche SE is the group through which the billionaire Porsche and Piech families control VW, which is still dealing with the effects of its diesel emissions scandal.
The families are in negotiations for a 14.7 percent stake in Porsche SE, worth around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), to be transferred from Piech to other members of the family, Porsche SE said in a statement on Friday, confirming a report by weekly magazine Der Spiegel.
"At present, it is still unforeseeable whether the aforesaid changes in the shareholder structure of Porsche Automobil Holding SE will in fact occur," the statement said.
The Porsche and Piech families have a right of first refusal on shares held by Piech, who is 79.
Pressure has been rising on Piech, who resigned from his post at VW in April 2015 after a showdown with former CEO Martin Winterkorn, since an unsourced media report said last month he had informed top directors about potential cheating of diesel emission tests six months before the scandal became public in September 2015.
VW has strongly denied this and last month signaled it could take legal action against Piech.
VW declined comment on Porsche SE's statement.
Bild am Sonntag separately reported earlier this month that Piech could lose his supervisory board seat at Porsche SE.
Piech's departure from the entity that owns 52 percent of VW's voting stock would be the final fall from grace for one of the defining figures of the modern auto industry.
The grandson of Ferdinand Porsche -- founder of the sports car maker that developed the Beetle under a 1934 contract with the Nazis -- Piech turned around VW as CEO, from 1993, and later as chairman. But since resigning as chairman in 2015 following the showdown with Winterkorn, he has become a recluse and unwilling to defend the empire he helped build.
"Piech had no more chance to crown his life's work and has lost most of his allies," said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the Center of Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen. "Selling off his stake is the most logical step."
Dudenhoeffer said he doesn't expect the Porsche-Piech families to put up the financial means to fund the buyout and instead expects industrial investors such as VW's two Chinese joint venture partners, FAW Group Corp. and SAIC Motor Corp., to seize the opportunity.
Porsche SE shares closed down 1.8 percent at 50.96 euros on Friday, after briefly gaining 20 cents after Porsche's statement, while VW shares closed 1.3 percent lower at 138.40 euros, but had jumped about 30 cents after the statement.
Piech's withdrawal may also raise investor hopes that the VW group can finally overcome what many analysts have dubbed a dysfunctional operating structure, which has seen the group hamstrung by the carmaker's powerful labor unions and the state of Lower Saxony, which holds a blocking minority with its 20 percent stake.
"Should industrial investors step in, this could create double pressure for change from owners and investors," said Dudenhoeffer. "For VW, it could be a chance, at last, to free itself from the strangling grip of the unions and Lower Saxony."
Bloomberg contributed to this report.