Tuesday, April 17, 2018

VW Group’s New CEO Wants to Sell Off Some of its Brands

By: Sam McEachern
Volkswagen Group last week appointed Herbert Diess as its new CEO, who replaces Porsche transplant Mathias Mueller in the position.
Diess will be tasked with simplifying the complicated VW Group conglomerate and ensuring it remains profitable going forward. One way to help achieve both of these things is to sell off some of the company’s numerous brand assets, giving it a slimmer but more focused portfolio. According to Reuters, this may be exactly what Diess has in mind, with the executive saying they will “review all options,” including selling brands or investing in them.
“We want to create a slimmed down company with strong brands,” Diess said shortly after his appointment last week.
It’s not likely that any of VW’s passenger car brands are on the chopping block, but companies like MAN Diesel, which makes large-bore diesel engines, or Renk AG, a producer of gear drive assemblies, very well could be. Motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, which was nearly sold for $1.8 billion last year, is another that may eventually be made available for purchase.
In addition to simplifying VW Group’s business, Diess is also keen on streamlining its passenger car operations. This will begin with lumping its brands into respective categories. For example, the volume brands (VW, Skoda, Seat and VW Commercial) would be grouped under one umbrella, while very high-end brands (Bugatti, Lamborghini, Bentley) would fall under a separate one. VW has yet to provide specifics on this plan, though.
Diess joined VW Group in 2015 after spending nearly two decades at rival manufacturer BMW. He garnered favor with his peers for his handling of VW labor disputes, helping to boost him into the CEO role once board members began to look for a replacement for Mueller. He will steer a more simplified VW ship as it looks to move on from the dieselgate scandal and boost its market share in the U.S. and China.

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