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Lamborghini pulls into sight of Ferrari at US$11b value

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The Urus has helped Lamborghini to dramatically widen its appeal and lift output. Last year, sales rose 51 per cent to 5,750 units, including more than 1,700 Urus models.

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FOR decades, Lamborghini has been known for brash supercars that combine brute power and daring design, like the classic Miura or the edgy Countach.

Now the Italian company's successful push into more comfortable sport utility vehicles has helped boost its valuation to US$11 billion, making it a viable initial public offering (IPO) candidate for owner Volkswagen AG, according to Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) analysts.

Soaring sales of the Urus SUV, introduced in mid-2018, is helping Lamborghini draw level with Ferrari, while the new 200 miles-per-hour plus Aventador and a hybrid supercar hitting the market in 2020 will help lift margins be-yond 30 per cent, BI's Michael Dean and Gillian Davis said in a research note.

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They previously estimated the carmaker's valuation at US$9 billion.

"VW's partial IPO of Traton trucks sets the stage for further corporate restructuring, which should include a Lamborghini IPO, in our view," the analysts said.

The IPO of Traton in June is regarded as the first tangible result from an asset review that's lasted three years and counting.

VW's byzantine structure - covering 12 vehicle brands and ownership ranging from descendants of the VW Beetle's creator to its home state and the Qatar Investment Authority - has proven tension-prone during that time.

While Porsche sports cars and Ducati motorbikes have in the past been mooted as possible sale candidates, company officials have yet to clarify their plans. Like Ducati, Lamborghini is officially owned by Ingolstadt, Germany-based Audi, which in turn is controlled by VW.

"There's currently no decision to change the structure of the Audi group," it said in a statement.

Lamborghini started making sports cars in the early 1960s, but its roots date back to the tractor company founded by Ferruccio Lamborghini in the aftermath of World War II.

While it is not Lamborghini's first attempt to break out of its niche (there was a limited-run SUV in the 1980s called the LM002), the Urus has helped the Sant'Agata Bolognese-based company dramatically widen its appeal and lift output. Last year, sales rose 51 per cent to 5,750 units, including more than 1,700 Urus models.

The US remains the company's biggest single market, where Lamborghini sells almost three times as many cars as in the runner-up region, the UK.

Lamborghini's recent success notwithstanding, supercar stock listings have had mixed results. Ferrari NV has more than doubled in price since its 2015 share sale, following a steady ascent. On the flip side, Aston Martin, seeking to replicate Ferrari's experience, has dropped 70 per cent since its UK listing in October. BLOOMBERG