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VW financing arm in good shape despite Dieselgate

Embattled German carmaker Volkswagen has said its financial services division has logged a record full-year profit despite Dieselgate-related write-downs. But the outlook for 2016 is a lot more cautious.

Volkswagen's financing and leasing arm, VWFS, on Tuesday reported a record 1.9-billion-euro ($2.1-billion) operating profit for 2015, up from 1.7 billion euros a year earlier.

Bottom-line earnings soared by a staggering 26 percent last year to total 1.5 billion euros despite the aftermath of the

carmaker's Dieselgate emissions scandal.

VWFS' new chief, Henner Santelmann, confirmed the positive results were achieved despite write-downs on the value of the firm's vehicles under leasing contracts.

"Shortly after the pollution scandal became public, we started making substantial provisions for our leasing portfolio," Santelmann commented, adding that relevant write-downs amounted to 353 million euros in 2015.

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Uncertainties ahead

While the financial services division's 2015 results were surprisingly good, the outlook for this year seems far less upbeat as there continue to be a number of imponderables.

VWFS doesn't know yet, for instance, at which price recalled vehicles can be leased to clients again and whether that leasing price will be anywhere neat the amount of money it had calculated before it got bogged down by the emissions cheating scandal.

Sluggish demand in Russia, India and Brazil could also take its toll on sales in the course of the year, not to mention higher refinancing costs after S&P and Moody's had downgraded the carmakers credit rating.

VWFS said it expected its operating profit to come in below 2015 levels, but slightly above the 1.7 billion euros logged in 2014.

hg/jd (Reuters, dpa)

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