CHAIRMAN RESIGNS AFTER FAILED ATTEMPT TO OUST CEO WINTERKORN
Turmoil in the upper echelons of motor industry giant Volkswagen led to the resignation of the company chairman, Ferdinand Piech, this week, but looks set to continue for some time yet.
The shock resignation followed his unsuccessful attempt to oust the German company’s chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, reported in Driven last week.
Volkswagen’s six-strong executive committee this week threw their full support behind Winterkorn. The committee included Piech, his cousin Wolfgang Porsche, and representatives of VW’s unions and the German state of Lower Saxony.
This statement of solidarity, though, didn’t end the stream of plots and counterplots, which continued to dominate the German and automotive press.
Volkswagen Group’s executive committee met repeatedly during the week to try to deal with the leadership issue.
After several meetings, the company announced that “members of the executive committee have unanimously determined that in view of the background of the last weeks the mutual trust necessary for successful co-operation no longer exists”.
As a result, Piech stood down as the company’s chairman. He also resigned from Volkswagen’s 20-member supervisory board, as has his wife, Ursula Piech. According to Automotive News, Piech stepped down without bringing matters to a vote.
Deputy chairman Berthold Huber will temporarily assume the chairmanship of the company, and will conduct the firm’s annual general meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday.
Together the Porsche and Piech families control around 51 per cent of Volkswagen’s voting stock. Porsche, chairman of the families’ investment vehicle, Porsche Automobil Holding SE, issued a media statement: “We have complete faith in the management of Volkswagen and regret the developments of recent days.”
Ferdinand Piech is a nephew of Porsche founder Ferry Porsche and is an engineer by training. During his career he has worked in various roles at Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen.
Piech is widely seen as a driving force behind many iconic vehicles, including the Audi Quattro, Volkswagen New Beetle, Bugatti Veyron and Volkswagen Phaeton. As part of a failed attempt to purchase Rolls-Royce Cars, Piech brought Bentley into the Volkswagen Group’s stable of brands, which now includes VW, Ducati, Seat, Skoda, Audi, Lamborghini and Porsche.