While writing a story about the the 80th anniversary of Porsche Engineering I got to wondering about the alphabet soup that makes up all the various Porsche corporate entities (we all know that Porsche Acronyms are used readily in their marketing). I'm sure, that for a German business person it's probably second nature and they don't even give them a second thought (similar to how we might see "LLC" or "Inc" following a company here in the US). However, as someone not familiar with all the various acronyms and abbreviations used in the German business world I decided to look it up and take a stab at identifying everything. Some of the abbreviations are quite obvious; others, not so much. Okay, I admit, the subject matter is a little dry, but it's something I've been wondering about for a long time. Perhaps you were too.
Let's start at the beginning
Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, Konstruktion und Beratung für Motoren- und Fahrzeugbau. Yup, it's a mouthful and the full name of the company founded by Ferdinand Porsche on April 25th 1931. This company, let's call it "Porsche Engineering" for short, is what eventually morphed into what we know today as Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG; or, if you want to make it easy on yourself, simply shorten that lengthy moniker to Porsche AG. Porsche AG is the main subsidiary of Porsche Automobil Holding SE (otherwise known as Porsche SE). Confused? Don't worry, so is everyone else and we haven't even brought VW into the picture yet. At some point in the future we'll put together a post trying to explain the capital holding structure of Porsche (for those of you interested) but first I need to figure it out myself. For now, if you really want to make your head spin, take a look at this document. In the meantime, we'll work on explaining all the acronyms for you below.
Back to the Alphabet Soup
Let's see, we have:
- Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche
- Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH)
- Porsche AG
- Porsche SE
- If there is an obvious one, I guess it's the first. "Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche" stands for "Doktor Ingenieur honoris causa Ferdinand Porsche." If we take each piece it's a bit easier to put it together. "Dr. Ing." is an acronym for "Doktor Ingenieur" or what we know as a "Doctor of Engineering" (in other words, the equivalent of a Ph.D.). And "honoris causa" simply means an "honorary degree" (Porsche was awarded his in 1917 by the Vienna University of Technology).
- "Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung," or "GmbH" for short, translates directly as a "Company (Gesellschaft) with (mit) Limited (beschränkter) Liability (Haftung)." We would know it as a "Limited Liability Company" or "LLC" here in the States.
- With regard to "Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG," we've already explained the beginning and "Porsche" is self-explanatory so let's look at the "AG". In 1972 Porsche went public and in 1973 "Porsche AG" was officially entered into the commercial register. "AG" is short for "Aktiengesellschaft" which is a German compound noun that literally translates to shares (Aktien) company (gesellschaft). In other words, it is a company limited by shares or owned by the shareholders.
- Last, but definitely not least, is "Porsche Automobil Holding SE." In this instance, the "SE" is an acronym for the Latin term "Societas Europaea" which translates directly to "European Company." An "SE" is a form of European Public Company governed by the rules of the Council Regulation on the Statute for a European Company of the European Union.
That's it. You now know more about German business acronyms than you probably ever wanted to. However, you never know, this could very well be a trivia question in an upcoming Porsche related competition that just might win you a nice prize. Not to mention, if we ever do decipher Porsche's complex corporate holding structure it will help in understanding how and why it is set up the way it is.
[Source: Porsche SE, Porsche AG]