March 8, 2018 / 4:31 PM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-German auto parts firm Continental sees structural change spurring sales

* Sales could exceed 65 bln euros by 2025 -CEO

* Possible structural change to be outlined by mid-2018

* Continental open to making cells, decision needs time (Adds comments from CEO, detail and background)

By Andreas Cremer

BERLIN, March 8 (Reuters) - Continental said on Thursday it could double sales by 2025 on fast-growing demand for electrification and driver-assistance technology if the German auto parts maker changed its corporate structure and became more nimble.

The company has been in talks with banks about a possible structural revamp that experts say could include listing or spinning off divisions. It aims to outline its plans by mid-2018.

Chief Executive Elmar Degenhart said growing demand for safety systems and other electronics could drive group sales above 65 billion euros ($80.24 billion) by 2025 from 44 billion last year.

To achieve this, Continental wants to sharpen its operations in electronics, software and sensor technology, now accounting for 60 percent of sales at its core automotive unit and forecast to grow in coming years.

“We must think about how we can best position us for the future and how we can give organisational segments ... the best chance to grow profitably in future,” Degenhart told an earnings webcast, adding this could involve broadening responsibilities among staff.

With the auto industry wrapped up in a strategic transition to zero-emission cars and self-driving technology, carmakers and suppliers are repositioning their businesses and spinning off operations to focus more effectively on new technologies.

Volkswagen is considering a stock sale of its truck and bus division as part of a broader structural overhaul at the 12-brand group.

German peer Daimler has said it may split parts of its business into separate legal entities, which may allow for a partial listing to raise funds to invest in new services such as autonomous and electric cars.

“We must think about how we can ensure this large company will remain flexible and agile,” Degenhart said, declining to give details on any changes.

Continental employs more than 235,000 people in more than 50 countries.

Unlike German rival Robert Bosch which last month ruled out producing its own battery cells, Continental remains open to the possibility of assembling cells on its own or with partners, Degenhart said, adding it would take two years before a final decision was made.

Separately, Continental proposed raising the 2017 dividend by 25 cents to 4.50 euros, after reporting a 10 percent increase in adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) last year to 4.75 billion euros.

$1 = 0.8101 euros Reporting by Andreas Cremer Editing by Edward Taylor and Edmund Blair

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