The power struggle at Volkswagen Group won’t have escaped your attention over the past few weeks. Volkswagen Group’s chairman gave an interview a few weeks ago criticising his chief executive, Martin Winterkorn. The friction created controversy at the top tier of the German automaker. Prior to the dispute, Winterkorn had been widely tipped to replace Ferdinand Piech as Chairman.
A further twist to the story emerged on Saturday when a statement released by Volkswagen Group confirmed that Ferdinand Piech had resigned from his position as Chairman of the Volkswagen Group Supervisory Board. The statement confirms that that deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Berthold Huber, will temporarily assume leadership of the Board until the election of a new Chairman.
The statement explains that “The members of the Executive Committee have unanimously determined that in view of the background of the last weeks the mutual trust necessary for successful cooperation no longer exists.”
Mr Piech, nephew of Porsche founder Ferry Porsche, will still retain a significant shareholding in both Porsche and Volkswagen Group. Mr Piech’s announcement was followed by that of his wife Ursula who also announced her resignation “from all mandates within the Volkswagen Group.” Mrs Piech was also a member of the Volkswagen Group Supervisory Board.
Piech was known for his ruthless approach to business. He joined Volkswagen Group in 1993 as Chairman of the Board of Management, succeeding Carl Hahn at a point where the company looked almost certain to enter into bankruptcy. Having turned the company around, he moved to his position as Chairman of the Supervisory Board in 2002.
Winterkorn in his role as Chairman of the Board of Management, manages the day to day running of the company. Piech had been accused of organising a coup ahead of the Volkswagen Group shareholders meeting due to take place on 5th May. Mr Winterkorn’s contract is due to last until the end of 2016, while Mr Piëch was due to step down the following year.
Statement of the Executive Committee of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG
The Executive Committee of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG discussed again today in detail the situation of the Volkswagen Group.
The members of the Executive Committee have unanimously determined that in view of the background of the last weeks the mutual trust necessary for successful cooperation no longer exists.
For this reason Professor Dr. Ferdinand K. Piëch has resigned with immediate effect from his position as Chairman of the Supervisory Board and from all his mandates as a Supervisory Board member within the Volkswagen Group. In addition, Ms. Ursula Piëch has resigned with immediate effect from all her Supervisory Board mandates within the Volkswagen Group.
The position of Chairman of the Supervisory Board will be temporarily assumed by the Deputy Chairman Berthold Huber. Mr. Berthold Huber will chair both the Supervisory Board meeting on May 4 as well as the Annual General Meeting on May 5, 2015.
Under the chair of Mr. Berthold Huber the representatives of shareholders and employees will in close cooperation determine the candidate for the new Chairman of the Supervisory Board. The election of the future Chairman of the Volkswagen Supervisory Board will follow a proposal made by members of the Supervisory Board representing shareholders.