Daimler AG could split its truck unit and passenger-car business into separate companies, but it’s not a necessity and won’t happen unless stockholders want it to.
“It’s not so much an issue of management, it’s more of the shareholders, what they want to do,” Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler’s truck unit, said in an interview at the Portland International Raceway in Oregon, near the company’s new North American headquarters. “If we don’t need the money, why break apart a very successful unit?”
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The CEO of the world’s biggest truck maker sounds lukewarm on the prospect of a listing compared with rival Volkswagen AG, which is speeding up preparations for its trucking unit to sell stock or debt after buying a stake in Lisle, Ill.-based Navistar International Corp. two years ago. Daimler executives have raised the possibility of a partial spinoff of its truck unit, a move that would come amid increasing pressure from investors who say the value of the business isn’t reflected in the German manufacturer’s share price.
Daimler shares are down 12% this year despite record sales at its industry-leading Mercedes-Benz luxury-car business.
Volkswagen AG shares are down 2.1%.
Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler is carrying out its biggest corporate overhaul in more than a decade, granting its car and truck operations more independence in a move that could pave the way for spinoffs and other deals as the automaker confronts the disruptive shift to self-driving and electric vehicles. Daum disputed the idea that Daimler needs to sell a stake in the trucking unit to pay for a corporate overhaul.
“I feel pretty confident that we can shoulder, with our current profitability level, the tasks ahead of us,” he said.
With assistance from Christoph Rauwald.