BERLIN (Reuters) - Daimler (DAIGn.DE) has committed more than 100 million euros ($118 million) to help create separate legal entities for its Mercedes-Benz cars and Daimler Trucks divisions, a move that would facilitate an eventual break up of the German company.
Daimler wants to create a more agile structure as the latest luxury cars demand increasing input from technology and software specialists.
“We not only need to be as close as possible to our customers’ pulse, but also to be able to react as quickly and flexibly as possible to market developments and a fundamentally changing competitive environment,” finance chief Bodo Uebber said.
Daimler, which has annual sales of 153 billion euros ($181 billion), said it did not plan to divest any of its divisions and no final decision on the legal split had been made.
Under the proposals, Daimler would be split into three independent stock corporations with their own management and supervisory boards capable of signing cross-shareholding agreements with any partners, a person familiar with the matter said, without giving more details.
The move announced on Monday follows comments by CEO Dieter Zetsche who said in July that Daimler was considering putting parts of its business into separate legal entities, spurring talk of a possible break up as the group looks to fund big investments in self-driving and electric cars.
Alongside the Financial Services AG business, the two new entities would combine Mercedes-Benz Cars and Vans operations as well as Trucks and Buses divisions, the company said.
The Stuttgart-based company said in a separate statement on Monday that it was not pursuing any savings, efficiencies or job cuts related to the reorganization.
To win the support of its labor unions, Daimler said it has further extended job guarantees until 2029 from 2020 and will make a 3 billion-euro contribution to the group’s pension fund in the fourth quarter.
Separating Daimler’s divisions could make it easier to value them and create a higher figure than for the current combination, with trucks and buses on their own worth 31 billion euros, analysts at Evercore ISI have said.
The German company’s total market value is around 72.7 billion euros, according to Thomson Reuters data.
“Daimler may be against putting anything up for sale now but of course things can look entirely different in 10 to 15 years’ time,” said NordLB analyst Frank Schwope, who has a “hold” recommendation on the stock, adding he saw the trucks operations as the most likely candidate for a future divestment.
“The implications of this (separation) are more long-term,” he said.
Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), the world’s biggest automotive group which also sells trucks and vans alongside its car business, has no plans to follow Daimler and divide up the group, Chief Executive Matthias Mueller said last month.
Daimler shareholders could approve a possible legal overhaul in 2019 at the earliest, the company said, adding that further examination and due diligence were needed before the management and supervisory boards can reach a final verdict.
The shares were trading up 0.8 percent at 68.46 euros as of 1305 GMT.
Reporting by Andreas Cremer, Victoria Bryan and Ilona Wissenbach.; Editing by Mark Potter and Keith Weir