April 12, 2018 / 1:41 PM / 2 years ago

Audi brand to be excluded from VW sportscar brand overhaul: source

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) will pool management of all its sportscar brands except for Audi (NSUG.DE) under a planned revamp designed to hike profitability, a VW supervisory board source said on Thursday.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler speaks during the company's annual news conference in Ingolstadt, Germany March 15, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Volkswagen directors are meeting to discuss making VW brand chief Herbert Diess Chief Executive and deliberating on the most far-reaching changes since industry scion Ferdinand Piech built the multi-brand empire, the sources told Reuters.

Volkswagen’s supervisory board wants to reorganize the way passenger car brands, trucks and buses are grouped, in a bid to increase its development and engineering synergies and improve the German carmaker’s competitiveness.

VW said on Thursday it would hold a press conference in Wolfsburg on Friday at 0830 GMT.

Volkswagen’s deliberations come as rival carmakers and suppliers including Fiat and Daimler work on ways to slim down and divest non-core assets.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs say there is 160 billion euros worth of “hidden value” in the European autos sector that could be unlocked through portfolio simplifications.

Automotive analyst Frank Schwope at NordLB said a revamp could also prove to be a fresh trigger for deciding what the Wolfsburg-based group’s core businesses are.

“There has to be a new attempt at slimming down under the new leadership. The group has simply become too complex, firms like Ducati and Renk have only limited value for group business and would be much better placed at different owners,” Schwope, who has a ‘buy’ rating on VW said.

VW supervisory board members are discussing the creation of a ‘super premium’ group which includes sportscar brands Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti, the source said.

Bavarian luxury car brand Audi will be excluded from this group and form its own ‘premium’ division, the source added.

In addition there will be a ‘volume’ brand group that includes the VW brand, Czech division Skoda and Spanish unit Seat, and a ‘commercial vehicles’ category.

Volkswagen will carve out a trucks and buses division which includes MAN and Scania heavy-truck brands, the source said.

Volkswagen’s MAN Turbo and Renk units will also be put into a separate division, the source said.

Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach, Jan Schwartz and Irene Preisinger; Editing by Edward Taylor/Keith Weir/Alexander Smith

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