FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen's VOWG_p.DE supervisory board could give a green light for preparations to float its trucks and buses division as soon as May 2, people close the matter told Reuters.
Creating a new corporate structure for the division would be a sign the German automaker is making progress on its pledge to become a more focused and nimble company in the wake of its 2015 diesel emissions crisis, after a failed attempt to sell motorcycle brand Ducati last year.
“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,” one of the people said.
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 (VW) spokesman said the company had been reviewing options for its trucks division, without elaborating.
The company has been considering a stock market listing for the division for some time, as this would allow 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 ($2 billion) last year on revenues of 23.9 billion euros. That compared with group underlying operating profit of 17 billion euros on revenues of 231 billion.
People close to the matter said earlier this month VW was planning to change the legal structure of Volkswagen Truck & Bus, whose brands include MAN and Scania, to a public limited company as a potential prelude to a listing.
There are advantages to waiting, as that would allow VW to show more progress in integrating MAN and Scania and cement its alliance with Navistar.
But 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 on Thursday.
“The issue is how much longer does trucks chief Andreas Renschler want to work, and is that enough time to integrate Navistar? Everybody understands there is a level of urgency here,” one source said.
VW agreed in 2016 an engine technology and purchasing alliance with Navistar and to take a 16.5 percent stake in the U.S. firm, giving the German company a long-sought foothold in North America. Analysts expect VW to eventually buy all of Navistar, but no deal has emerged so far.
“How long is the truck cycle going to play along is another factor,” added the source, who declined to be named as the matter is confidential.
Another person said VW had already brought in consultancy Deloitte to help on the subject and was expected to ask investment banks to pitch for a role in the IPO in May or June.
Rothschild ROTH.PA is well-placed to be called in as an IPO adviser to help VW choose global coordinators for the listing, the sources said, adding no banks had been hired so far. Deloitte and Rothschild declined to comment.
In its post-dieselgate transformation plan, VW pledged to shift power from its global headquarters to brands and regions, and to become more nimble. But a review of its portfolio of assets and stakes announced in 2016 has yet to deliver results.
A planned sale of Audi's NSUG.DE Italian motorcycle brand Ducati collapsed last year amid opposition from labor leaders.
“There are no decisions (on a trucks IPO),” Mueller told Reuters earlier this month, adding he was “very satisfied” with the level of support for structural changes from the carmaker’s supervisory board.
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Additional reporting by Alexander Huebner; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter
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