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Partial exit

: Webasto is giving up the majority of its charging division

Photo: Michael Dalder / Reuters

In the best Linkedin style, Webasto boss

Holger Engelmann

(58) posed on the career network around two months ago. He celebrated the new Webasto website with a thumbs-up photo. After the relaunch, one division no longer appeared in the “Products & Solutions” submenu: that for charging stations and wallboxes.

Engelmann had already put it up for sale in the spring of 2022, and in 2023, after high losses, he confirmed that he wanted to exit completely. But no buyers took the order for months. Now Webasto has found an investor after all. The private equity firm Transom Capital Group from Los Angeles is taking over the majority.

Webasto remains a minority shareholder; it is not known how many shares the automotive supplier will retain. In the long term, the company is likely to have other plans: “In the long term, we want to get out of the charging sector,” Engelmann said in spring 2023.

Neither side provided any information on the purchase price on Friday. Engelmann initially hoped for 500 million euros, according to the market. That wish is unlikely to have come true: “Webasto would actually have to do something more to get rid of it,” a market expert estimated in the spring.

Webasto promises affected employees either a takeover offer from Transom Capital Group or continued employment with Webasto itself. The charging locations in Planegg near Munich, Monrovia in the USA and Guanajuato in Mexico are to be retained. A perspective that obviously doesn't convince everyone. “Many in Germany are looking for new jobs,” an insider told manager magazin. Webasto recently employed around 90 people in Planegg.

92 million euros in sales, 82 million euros in losses

Webasto started developing charging solutions for electric cars in 2016, but never got the business off the ground. In 2022, sales of 92 million euros were offset by a loss of 82 million euros. With figures like these, it seems strange that Webasto's Chief Technology Officer

Marcel Bartling

speaks of a “success story” that the new majority owner will now “continue”.

Others in the industry have also stumbled in recent history: competitors such as Compleo from Dortmund or ABL from Lauf an der Pegnitz have only just completed insolvency proceedings.

Another sentence from Webasto board member Bartling sounds more honest. The now announced step enables the supplier to concentrate on its core business areas such as roof systems, auxiliary heaters, high-voltage heaters and battery packs. If they now develop even better than last - in 2022, Webasto only had a narrow profit margin of 2.5 percent with sales of 4.4 billion euros - nothing should stand in the way of the next "thumbs-up" posting from Holger Engelmann.