Volkswagen’s supervisory board could give the OK to prepare to float its truck and bus division as soon as early next month according to reports in the financial press.
The move to give its commercial vehicle division a new corporate structure is believed to signal that the German giant is delivering on its promise to become a more focused and nimble operation in the wake of the 2015 diesel emissions crisis. It follows its failed attempt to sell motorcycle brand Ducati last year.
Insiders have apparently indicated that the formal decision will likely be taken at the next supervisory board meeting and an IPO (initial public offering) could follow as early as 2019. The next regular supervisory board meeting is planned for May 2, one day ahead of the annual shareholder meeting.
The formal process of appointing investment banks to help with the groundwork for the IPO would follow in the weeks thereafter, another person said.
A Volkswagen spokesman has said the company had been reviewing options for its commercial division and it is common knowledge that it has been considering a stock market listing for the division for some time, enabling it to raise money on its own and use its stock for deals, such as buying the rest of U.S. truck maker Navistar.
The division made an operating profit of around 1.7 billion euros ($AUD2.75 billion) last year on revenues of 23.9 billion euros ($AUD39.2 billion, compared with underlying operating profit for the group as a whole of 17 billion euros ($AUD27.2 billion) on revenues of 231 billion euros ($AUD370 billion).
Insiders say VW is planning to change the legal structure of Volkswagen Truck & Bus, which controls MAN and Scania, into a public limited company as the potential prelude to listing the entity.
It is believed the board had to weigh up the advantage of waiting, which would allow VW to make more progress on integrating MAN and Scania and enable it to cement its hold on Navistar.
However the sources said IPO preparations had gained greater urgency in recent weeks, as the company seeks to deliver on its post “dieselgate” transformation promises and to move while its respected trucks boss, Andreas Renschler, is still at the helm. Renschler turned 60 last week.
The issue is how much longer does trucks chief Andreas Renschler want to work, and is that enough time to integrate Navistar? VW management apparently have given this top priority and a level of urgency as a result.
VW took a 16.5 per cent stake in Navistar in 2016 establishing an engine technology and purchasing alliance with Navistar and helping the cash strapped American company to invest in new models and technology. The move gave VW a much needed foothold in the US truck market and industry enabling it to compete with Euro rivals Daimler and Volvo, both of whom have strong presence in North America. Analysts expect VW to eventually buy all of Navistar, but no deal has emerged so far.
It is understood VW had already brought in consultancy Deloitte to help on the subject and is expected to ask investment banks to pitch for a role in the IPO in May or June