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VW to float 10% of truck unit, seeks to raise 1.9 billion euros

VW to float 10% of truck unit, seeks to raise 1.9 billion euros
FILE PHOTO: Visitors stand at the booth of Volkswagen's truck unit Traton Group, former Volkswagen Truck & Bus AG, in Hanover, Germany September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer -
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Fabian Bimmer(Reuters)
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By Douglas Busvine

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Volkswagen aims to raise up to 1.9 billion euros (£1.69 billion) by listing truck unit Traton, it said on Friday, scaling back earlier ambitions to list up to a quarter of the unit by opting to float a 10% stake.

The German carmaker said in a statement that the offering would be priced at 27-33 euros per share, which Jefferies analysts said valued Traton at a slight discount to industry peers but at a premium to Swedish competitor Volvo.

“We will now meet investors across the globe to convey our Traton story and the future potential of the group,” Traton Chief Executive Andreas Renschler said in a statement late on Friday after the publication of Traton’s IPO prospectus.

“We are confident that we will then be able to ring the Stock Exchange bell before the end of June if the market stays reasonable.”

Traton said that Swedish pension fund AMF Pensionsfoersaekring AB had agreed to become a cornerstone investor in the listing and subscribe to 200 million euros worth of Traton stock.

Wolfsburg-based VW plans to invest proceeds in transforming its auto production as it readies the launch of dozens of electric vehicles over the coming years and deepens an alliance with Ford Motor Co.

It is also seeking to capitalise on the premium that truck stocks command over automakers to create an acquisition currency, having earlier shown interest in U.S.-based truck maker Navistar.

Management denies that a Navistar deal is in immediate prospect, but such a move would fit with a broader pivot by the leading European carmaker towards the United States to balance its reliance on China, where it sells half its cars.

MORECAUTIOUS

The stake size is at the bottom end of a range of 10%-20% that sources had earlier indicated. If banks running the deal exercise an over-allotment option, the issue size could reach 11.5% of Traton’s equity.

At the offer range, the initial public offering values Traton at 13.5-16.5 billion euros.

Shares in VW closed 1.1 percent lower on Friday as analysts cautioned that Traton’s potential acquisitiveness could lead to the issue of fresh equity that would dilute existing shareholdings.

Jefferies, in a note, said that Traton’s enterprise value as a multiple of core earnings – a measure of a company’s ability to support its equity and debt costs – of 8.2 times was slightly lower than the sector average but higher than Volvo’s, which it sees as offering better value.

The carmaker is being more cautious about the volume of shares it will place after halting earlier listing plans in March, when it had planned to place a stake of up to 25% on the stock market, citing market conditions.

More shares could be sold subsequently if the IPO is successful, a person familiar with the matter said this month, adding VW would remain Traton’s majority shareholder for the foreseeable future.

The offering will begin on Monday, with management holding a series of investor roadshows. It ends on June 27, with the first day of trading in Frankfurt and Stockholm set for June 28.

(Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Susan Fenton and Jan Harvey)

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