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Maserati aims at driving margins higher before any spin-off talk

Maserati, the luxury brand of Stellantis, presents its new MC20 Cielo Spider model

By Giulio Piovaccari

MILAN (Reuters) - Maserati aims to increase its margin on operating profit to 15% in the next 12 months and sees a longer term target of 20% by the end of this decade, according to the CEO of the Stellantis luxury brand.

The margin stood at 8.7% last year, though topped 10% in the second half.

Davide Grasso, who took charge of Maserati in 2019, said that once that target was met, parent company Stellantis could start evaluating in earnest a spin-off of the 109-year old automaker.

Stellantis CFO Richard Palmer in November said Maserati could be a stand-alone business in the future, but that was not going to happen any time soon.

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Maserati, a separate and autonomous unit within Stellantis, posted a 201 million euro ($214 million) adjusted operating profit last year after returning to the black in 2021.

Grasso said a focus on quality, giving the brand strong pricing power, would help Maserati to further boost its profitability.

Its first intermediate margin target of 15% is to be met "more or less by the end of first quarter of 2024".

"But we have 20% as our polar star," he said, adding he aimed to book margin improvements every year, so ideally reaching the 20% target by 2029-2030 "if we do the right things".

He said that goal could be hit "even earlier possibly".

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Porsche has also set a long-term operating margin goal of 20%. For Ferrari, the margin already runs well above the 20% threshold.

Grasso said that the number of Maserati models -- currently based on Levante and Grecale SUVs, the MC20 sportscar, GranTurismo grand tourer (GT) and Quattroporte luxury sedan -- does not need to be expended.

Maserati has a margin-based and not a volume-based strategy, he added. "We'll never trim our prices to reach certain volumes targets. Discount is not a word in our vocabulary."

Maserati sold 25,900 cars last year. The starting prices for the Levante and Grecale SUVs are around 97,000 euros and 76,000 euros.

Asked whether reaching the margin goals would mark the right moment for parent group Stellantis to assess a spin-off, Grasso said: "Let's meet the 20% target, then we'll think about it".

Maserati is now launching its new GranTurismo grand tourer in combustion engine and fully-electric (BEV) versions, with an entry price of around 182,000 euros.

It has promised a BEV version would be available for all models in its range by 2025 and that it would become an electric-only brand by 2030.

"Maybe earlier," Grasso said.

The automaker this year will also issue a BEV version of the Grecale SUV it launched in 2022.

Next year the brand will launch a limited-series, 700-horse power, track-only hypercar, internally dubbed Project24. Based on the MC20, it will cost 1 million euros and only 62 will be produced.

"It's sold out already," Grasso said.

($1 = 0.9410 euros)

(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; editing by Keith Weir)