Volkswagen Said to Eye Traton Stock Sale After Price Surge

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(Bloomberg) — Volkswagen AG is exploring the sale of as much as €1 billion ($1.1 billion) of stock in Traton SE, people familiar with the matter said, taking advantage of the truckmaker’s surging price to increase the number of shares available for trading.

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VW, which owns about 90% of Traton, has been talking to potential advisers about a sale to institutional investors via an accelerated bookbuilding transaction as soon as the next few weeks, the people said. The size of the offering could be about €500 million to €1 billion depending on market conditions, according to the people.

Since Traton’s initial public offering in 2019, VW has fielded calls from investors to increase the truck maker’s free float to raise more capital and help the unit become more independent. The business owns brands including Germany’s MAN, Sweden’s Scania and Navistar in the US.

VW Chief Financial Officer Arno Antlitz said during an earnings call last month that that the company was prepared to take steps to boost Traton’s free float at the appropriate time.

Traton’s shares declined as much as 3.4% in early trading. The stock has risen more than 50% this year, bringing its market capitalization to around €16.4 billion.

No decisions have been made and plans could still change, these people said. A representative for VW referred to Antlitz’s recent comments and declined to comment further. A spokesperson for Traton also declined to comment.

Traton Chief Executive Officer Christian Levin has focused on bolstering cooperation among the company’s brands, including on research and development and a push to lift sales in China. The truckmaker reported better-than-expected operating profit in the first quarter despite lower unit sales, in part by cutting costs and raising prices.

Traton plans to hold an investor day on Oct. 1 in Munich.

–With assistance from Fareed Sahloul.

(Updates with shares in fifth paragraph.)

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