A potential showdown this week could resolve tensions at Europe’s biggest carmaker.
Six key members of Volkswagen’s supervisory board will convene on Thursday in an extraordinary meeting that reflects growing concern about the very public power struggle between Ferdinand Piëch and Martin Winterkorn.
Mr. Piëch, supervisory board chairman at Volkswagen, withdrew his support for the company’s chief executive Mr. Winterkorn, in a call to news magazine, Der Spiegel, last Friday, saying, “I am distancing myself from Winterkorn.”
The six members who will meet today make up Volkswagen’s presiding committee which sets the agenda for the supervisory board, the non-executive board which hires and fires chief executives.
The presiding committee members include Mr. Piëch and Bertold Huber, the deputy chairman, who represents the powerful IG Metall trade union. The other members include Wolfgang Porsche who represents the Porsche family interests; Bernd Osterloh, VW’s chief labor representative; Stephan Weil, the governor of the state of Lower Saxony, which holds a stake in the company, and Stephan Wolf, the deputy labor representative.
Since Mr. Piëch’s comments, there have been attempts by members of the supervisory board to mediate between the two parties amid concern about how long Mr. Winterkorn can now continue in his post. Mr. Winterkorn has been chief executive since 2007 and his contract was due to run until 2016. In the past when Mr. Piëch has withdrawn his support from chief executives, they have left the company.
Volkswagen’s main shareholder meeting is planned for May 5. According to people close to the situation, it is unclear whether Mr. Piëch and Mr. Winterkorn will be able to share the stage.