Only major geopolitical problem will stop Porsche IPO, CFO says

BERLIN, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Porsche will only backtrack on its stock market debut if severe geopolitical problems arise, the sportscar brand’s chief financial officer said on Tuesday, while a source close to the IPO said there was investor appetite in every region worldwide.

Even as markets roiled from Russia halting gas supply to Europe over the weekend, Volkswagen pushed ahead with the announcement on Monday that it would list Porsche AG in late September or early October, but said the decision was still subject to capital market developments.

Investors questioned the timing of the decision in the run-up to Monday’s meeting, pointing to the tumbling stocks of European firms – including of other luxury carmakers – amid record inflation and the instability of war.

Still, a source close to the IPO said on Tuesday there was investor interest in every region worldwide from a mix of fund types and previous Volkswagen stock owners.

Analysts said the listing could bump up Volkswagen’s stock by showcasing the valuation of just one of its 14 brands, while giving Porsche SE , Volkswagen’s top shareholder, the tighter grip over the carmaker it has sought for years.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of people who want to invest in a pure electric car company that’s not a start-up, or has a nosebleed valuation like Tesla… people will want to buy this,” Chi Chan, portfolio manager of European equities at Federated Hermes said of Porsche AG stock, declining to comment on whether his firm would buy in.

“We have no doubt the planned IPO will generate value for Volkswagen, but the greatest benefit will accrue to Porsche SE,” analysts at Mirabaud wrote, predicting Porsche SE will eventually take back full control of the Porsche brand.

Investors estimate a valuation for Porsche AG anywhere between 60 billion and 85 billion euros ($60 billion to $85 billion).

Porsche SE, which controls 31.4% of Volkswagen and has 53.3% of voting rights, will take 25% plus one share of ordinary Porsche AG shares at a 7.5% premium.

That means it would need significant financing to fund its portion of the sports car brand’s shares at a higher valuation, Bernstein analyst Daniel Roeska said in a research note.

With Qatar intending to commit to 4.99% of the preferred share offering as a cornerstone investor, institutional and retail investors will be allocated 20.01% of preferred shares, or 10% of Porsche’s total capital.

In a media call on Tuesday, Porsche and now also Volkswagen Chief Executive Oliver Blume said the listing could help revive capital markets hit by slowing global growth.

“There is a lot of capital in the market,” Blume said. “We think the Porsche IPO could be an icebreaker.

Volkswagen and Porsche executives declined to comment on what valuation they expect, stating only they believed Porsche would be attractive to investors even in such turbulent times.

“If a company is able to succeed under these difficult market conditions, it is Porsche,” Meschke said.

Porsche is a money-maker for the Volkswagen Group, with operating profits up 22% in the first half of the year compared to an 8% fall at the mass market Volkswagen brand.

Asked how conflicts of interest for Blume – who will remain chief of both companies even after a listing – would be handled, the CEO said Porsche AG’s executive board would have the authority to make decisions “100% on its own”.

($1 = 1.0045 euros)

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Sinead Cruise, Emma-Victoria Farr; additional reporting by Danilo Masoni in Milan; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Mark Potter and Jonathan Oatis