The news came amid growing signs a regulatory clampdown in the wake
of VW's <VOWG_p.DE> cheating is affecting the broader industry, with
Germany-based automakers including Mercedes-Benz, and Opel - as well
as VW - agreeing to recall a total of 630,000 cars to fix diesel
engine technology blamed for high pollution.
On Thursday, VW agreed a framework settlement with U.S. authorities
to buy back or potentially fix about half a million cars fitted with
illegal test-fixing software, and set up environmental and consumer
Analysts said the deal was crucial for VW to give a cost for the
scandal in its 2015 results, which have been delayed since February,
and provide a starting point for Europe's biggest carmaker to try to
rebuild trust with investors and customers.
VW said on Friday the money it was setting aside to pay for the
scandal would drive it to a 2015 net loss of 1.36 billion euros, the
largest in its history and the first on an annual basis since 1993.
Full results are due on April 28.
However, analysts said the Wolfsburg-based company could still face
further costs, including potential U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ)
fines as part of an expected civil settlement, and a DoJ
investigation that could lead to criminal charges
There are also questions over whether it will offer compensation to
the much larger number of diesel drivers affected outside the United
States, as well as who will be blamed for the scandal in several
"The crisis in Wolfsburg is far from over yet," said NordLB analyst
Frank Schwope, who has a "hold" rating on VW stock.
"The agreement with U.S. regulators is nothing but an intermediate
step in a marathon that should stretch out over the next 5-10
VW said on Friday it could not release preliminary findings from an
investigation it commissioned from U.S. law firm Jones Day until it
had reached an agreement with the DoJ.
Chief Executive Matthias Mueller also said he could not put a figure
on the total cost of the scandal -- which some analysts have
estimated at about $30 billion -- but there was no reason to believe
the 2015 loss would lead to job cuts.
VW said it planned to pay a dividend of 0.11 euros per ordinary
share and 0.17 euros per preferred share on its 2015 results, down
from 4.80 and 4.86 respectively the year before.
It also said executive bonuses for 2015 would fall by an average 39
percent from the year before. Management bonuses have been a major
flashpoint with workers and some investors, with VW's second-largest
shareholder - its home state of Lower Saxony - calling for them to
be scrapped or significantly reduced.
VW, which has described 2016 as "a year of transition", said it
expected deliveries to be on a par with last year's 9.93 million
cars, with revenues falling as much as 5 percent due to weak demand
in South America and Russia.
It forecast an operating margin of 5-6 percent, versus 6 percent in
2015, adjusted for special items.
VW's preferred shares, down nearly 20 percent since VW admitted to
cheating U.S. diesel tests in September, closed down 1.3 percent at
125.45 euros, after gaining sharply this week.
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Engine management systems and software have come under increased
scrutiny since the VW scandal broke.
Though no other carmaker has been found using the "defeat device"
software employed by VW, regulators and environmental groups have
criticized the wide use of engine management systems which switch
off treatments for reducing emissions in order to improve
performance and increase the interval between services.
European tests have found several carmakers using a legal loophole
allowing them to throttle back emissions treatments under certain
circumstances, ostensibly to protect engines.
Following extensive testing, the Germany's motor transport authority
questioned whether the use of this loophole was always justified and
necessary, a German official said a Friday.
The official said General Motors' Opel and Daimler's Mercedes-Benz,
as well as VW brands Audi, VW and Porsche, had agreed to recall a
total of 630,000 vehicles to tweak emissions management systems.
BMW, which invested in fuel saving technologies earlier than most
rivals, was not part of the recall, the official said.
The carmakers said they will cooperate with authorities.
Separately, Daimler said late on Thursday the U.S. DoJ had asked it
to investigate its emissions certification process for vehicles.
Finance chief Bodo Uebber declined to elaborate on what prompted the
investigation when Daimler published earnings for the first three
months of the year on Friday.
"We cannot go into details," he told reporters as Daimler said
first-quarter operating profit fell 9 percent, hit by launch costs
for its new E-Class and currency swings.
Daimler said on Thursday it was cooperating with U.S. authorities
and would "investigate possible indications of irregularities and of
course take all necessary actions."
In a further sign of widening scrutiny, facilities run by France's
Peugeot Citroen and Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp were searched on
Thursday by local officials investigating fuel efficiency and
(Editing by Keith Weir and Mark Potter)
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