FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Volkswagen is considering forming partnerships in the next 1-2 years as a first step towards a possible listing of its PowerCo batteries operation, finance chief Arno Antlitz said as the group’s sportscar brand Porsche AG listed on Thursday.

“We do not rule out an IPO of the battery unit, but the financial flexibility we won today allows us to further strengthen our work in batteries alone. Then we will consider adding strategic partners later on,” Antlitz told Reuters.

Antlitz brushed aside rumours that Thursday’s Porsche listing could lead to a listing of Audi, another premium brand and huge moneymaker for Volkswagen.

“The next project is strategic partnerships or a potential IPO of the battery unit – I can’t say more for now,” he said.

Volkswagen has set aside 20 billion euros ($20.38 billion) for investment in its battery cell business, with the PowerCo unit managing its battery production and research from mining to recycling and projects including energy storage systems.

It has set aside a further 10 billion euros for investment along the supply chain, such as sourcing cathode materials.

Former CEO Herbert Diess first floated the idea of a listing in May last year as a means to fund the carmaker’s battery expansion plans.

Antlitz also said he expects the microchip shortage to last into 2024 and that the company was doing all it could to reduce waiting times for electric vehicles.

(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee and Emma-Victoria Farr; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Rachel More and David Goodman)