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Volkswagen chairman Piech resigns

Power play: Ferdinand Piech has been a driving force behind Volkswagen for decades, but has resigned after losing a showdown with chief executive Martin Winterkorn.

Power struggle at top of VW sees Piech step down as confidence in Winterkorn remains

Volkswagen logo27 Apr 2015

ONE of the leading figures behind Volkswagen worldwide, Ferdinand Piech, resigned from his position as chairman with immediate effect last weekend after losing a showdown with chief executive Martin Winterkorn.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Volkswagen AG’s executive committee of the supervisory board said: “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.

“For this reason, Professor Dr Ferdinand K Piech 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.”

The 78-year-old grandson on Ferdinand Porsche and patriarch of the Porsche family which owns 51 per cent of voting rights at Volkswagen openly distanced himself from Dr Winterkorn earlier this month after reportedly losing confidence in his ability to cut costs and restructure its operations in order to improve profitability, particularly in North America.

A clear majority of members of the six-member leadership committee subsequently backed Dr Winterkorn, with a statement on April 17 proposing that his contract be extended until February 2016 and stating that he was “the best possible chairman of the board of management for Volkswagen” and had the committee’s “full support” as he “pursues his role ... with the same vigour and success as before”.

 center imageLeft: Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn.However, the leadership crisis remained unresolved throughout the course of last week until Dr Piech resigned before forcing a vote of the committee.

The statement issued last Saturday said the position of chairman of the supervisory board will be temporarily assumed by deputy chairman Berthold Huber, who will chair both the supervisory board meeting on May 4 and the annual general meeting the following day.

“Under the chair of Mr Berthold Huber, the representatives of shareholders and employees will in close co-operation determine the candidate for the new chairman of the supervisory board,” the statement said.

“The election of the future chairman of the Volkswagen supervisory board will follow a proposal made by members of the supervisory board representing shareholders.”

Porsche SE has also supported Dr Winterkorn, releasing a statement that said it would continue to live up to its responsibility as the majority shareholder of the European auto giant.

“We have complete faith in the management of Volkswagen and regret the developments of recent days,” said Porsche SE chairman Wolfgang Porsche, who is also Dr Piech’s cousin.

Volkswagen said Dr Piech’s wife Ursula had also resigned with immediate effect from all her supervisory board mandates within the group.

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