Sunday, April 26, 2015

Escalation at Volkswagen: The Patriarch enters from – Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Volkswagen is a German public company. But is led Europe’s largest automaker as a family company with a patriarch at the top: Ferdinand Piëch. For the 78-year-old chairman Volkswagen is his life. He has shaped the company, first as head of the company, then the control panel twenty years. On Saturday, he resigned from all offices. His wife Ursula says goodbye to the 20-member Supervisory Board. Piëch so completely isolated faces the consequences of a falling out with the other representatives of the Executive Committee of the Supervisory Board, vorspurt the important decisions in the group.

Supervisory Board Chairman

How did it come to this scandal? Two weeks ago Piëch had surprisingly marked distance to VW CEO Martin Winterkorn. With a single sentence he had thus unleashed a crisis of leadership within the group. Why he wanted to settle Winterkorn, ultimately remains unclear. Piëch is not a man of big words and long explanations. But Winterkorn wanted from Piëch not simply “hunt the farm” leave it as it was called in his environment. Where an emergency meeting of the Bureau a week ago Piech said to have been isolated.

At the time, told the panel Winterkorn was the best boss of VW and assured that his “full support” to. But it ferment further. Piëch is to undermine the truce and have worked on it after taking on, get rid of winter grain. The bosses of Porsche, Matthias Müller, and the VW subsidiary Skoda, Winfried Vahland, were taken as a winter grain successor in game. Piëch himself explained, however, that he had arranged and not pursuing its replacement.

The situation certainly not relaxed and on Saturday it came to a break with Winterkorn. The wording in the statement of the Bureau sounds unintentionally funny: You have amicably found that mutual trust is no longer present. In other words, it is agreed that one is bitterly divided. It is noteworthy that this time not even played the family ties. Piëch’s deputy, Berthold Huber, spoke of a loss of trust between Supervisory Board Chairman and the other members of the Bureau. This includes Piëch’s cousin, Wolfgang Porsche. The Piëch and Porsche families hold 50.7% of the ordinary shares of VW. Ferdinand Piëch and Wolfgang Porsche grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, who is the creator of the legendary VW Beetle.

Bloss position as a leadership style

Piëch’s “management style” managers with few words and via press the to give marching orders, was savored in the control panel anymore. This is particularly true in the case Winterkorn. The Manager shall Volkswagen overall success. The Group, 2014 first sold more than 10 million cars and € 200 billion implemented. The bottom line is € 11 billion was earned. And the return on investment of almost 15% is impressive. But VW wants to attract efficient manager when earned Chefs be disavowed with a single sentence?

This does not mean that the Group would not be facing challenges. It is legitimate to ask whether the 68-year-old Winterkorn, who has been in office since 2007, is the right man to master this. Since the long-continued earnings weakness of the core VW brand since the tragedy has been the US market and there is recent weak sales in China, where Volkswagen was so accustomed to success. Right here revenge, that one is not present in the low-price segment. It is good that the dispute between Piëch and Winterkorn has brought these deficits in the foreground.

Piëch as a major shareholder

A patriarch as Piëch thinks he’s irreplaceable. Next to him, it has little room for strong personalities. Accordingly, it is completely open after his departure, who will lead the control panel. Thanks to the German Co-determination, which means that the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen ten of the 20 seats are provided by the employees, the general meeting on May 5 is now even headed by a former union boss. It is Berthold Huber, who had directed many years of IG Metall. Although

Piëch has no offices in VW, but he is not without influence. The ordinary shares of Porsche Automobil Holding, which owns 50.7% of VW, are quite held by the two Piëch and Porsche families. It Ferdinand Piëch has itself over more than 13% of the shares of Porsche Automobil Holding. As the family members must speak with one voice according to the statute, Piëch is the holding company can continue to affect the fortunes of VW and also to the succession of the Supervisory Board. Or pulls the patriarch of defiance even from those discussions all the way back? One can not imagine this.


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