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VW preparing Lamborghini, Ducati for possible ownership changes

Christoph Rauwald

Volkswagen AG is preparing its Italian units for strategic options such as an initial public offering or sale, in a bid to convince investors the asset review it began four years ago might still yield more meaningful results.

Lamborghini, Ducati and Italdesign will be folded into a structure that would allow the German manufacturer to act if a decision is made to change ownership, VW Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess said Monday in a presentation to analysts.

“We are, let’s say, bringing it into a legal structure where we could act,” Diess said, adding that no decisions on divestments have been made. “It’s probably a bit of a slower process,” he said, but “it’s on our agenda.”

Volkswagen AG is preparing its Italian units for strategic options such as an initial public offering or sale

Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter said that efforts to streamline VW’s sprawling conglomerate structure constitute a “work in progress.” Neither of the executives specified a time frame for potential decisions.

The world’s biggest automaker has little to show so far from the asset review it started in 2016 – in the wake of its diesel-emissions scandal – to explore options for niche brands and non-core operations. Analysts see VW’s ability to push through deeper structural changes as key to achieving a goal of boosting its market value to 200 billion euros ($237 billion) and challenge Tesla Inc.’s electric-car leadership.

Bloomberg News reported in October 2019 that a process to fold Lamborghini into a separate legal entity might conclude toward the end of 2020.

The company pushed through a downsized IPO of its Traton SE trucks unit last year after internal wrangling almost derailed the project. VW completed the sale of industrial gearbox maker Renk AG this year, but negotiations to divest MAN Energy Solutions fell apart and the manufacturer decided to restructure the business on its own.

Labor unions and the company’s Porsche and Piech owner families shot down efforts to sell Ducati three years ago. VW’s works council chief and supervisory board member Bernd Osterloh reiterated his backing for Ducati last month.