emergency measure

Crisis Meeting of Volkswagen Supervisory Board

Ausgang Winterkorn DPA
Martin Winterkorn, the VW CEO who survived a leadership struggle with the company's controlling shareholder, is planning to restructure the group into four units to make the 12-brand behemoth fleeter of foot.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If the leadership dispute at Volkswagen is not resolved soon, it could lose momentum in its attempt to become the world’s largest car maker and forfeit investor confidence.

  • Facts


    • A leadership dispute broke out at Volkswagen following comments by supervisory board chairman Ferdinand Piëch about chief executive Martin Winterkorn to the press.
    • Volkswagen’s supervisory board includes representatives from labor and politics and a major Qatari shareholder but is dominated by the Piëch and Porsche families.
    • Volkswagen is Europe’s largest car maker.
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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 Piëch has withdrawn his support from chief executives, they have left the company.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.

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