Morning Briefing

Class-action Germany

Audi boss Rupert Stadler has been quite a survivor among German managers. But now he is at last getting lonely, as he fights the Dieselgate scandal and accusations that Audi was involved in a cartel. But he’s still aiming to go out on a high note. The carmaker now wants to save €10 billion by 2022 and invest all of that in building e-cars. Strategy chief Roland Villinger just revealed the details to 700 executives. The company is also getting rid of four board members – personnel, production, sales and finance.

Volkswagen is Audi’s parent and will spill the beans on that new strategy at Wednesday’s diesel summit. Ministers, mayors, executives and lobbyists are invited to a national diesel forum – the only folk not attending are Chancellor Angela Merkel and environmental and consumer protection groups, and it’s those that Germans will miss as they choke on all the fumes. Meanwhile, given all the carmakers’ machinations, CSU boss Horst Seehofer has said he would allow class-action suits (so far not possible in the German legal system), a step his party had previously blocked. But during silly season, it’s not the promises you make but the promises you break that count.    

Those sweet little tactical truths – popularly known as lies – are also catching up with another fallen hero of the business world. Deutsche Börse chief Carsten Kengeter presented a deal to merge with the London stock market in February. But it’s emerging that his contacts to London colleague Xavier Rolet were closer than was previously known: the two held 15 talks between June 2015 and January 2016. The trouble is that Kengeter, a former investment banker, bought €4.5 billion worth of shares from his company in December 2015. The public prosecutor is taking a closer look.

Bavarian interior minister Joachim Herrmann wants to become federal interior minister, so we can expect some exciting insights from his press conference about what the Office for the Protection of the Constitution – Germany’s FBI – knows about terror. We’d love to know, for example, why Hamburg attacker Ahmad A wasn’t watched by security services despite being known to have psychological problems. He was also supposed to be deported. Those omissions were not Herrmann’s, so if he’s smart he’ll score some points by harping on about them.

The idea is to tame the chaos in the White House with army-style discipline as John Kelly, a four-star general, starts his job as chief of staff. He’s not the only general on the team. H. R. McMaster, national security advisor, is also a lieutenant general. It might help straighten things out for President Trump, whose summer has been rather too hot. He could cool down with the specialty ice cream named after him, the Coppa Trump, in celebration of the G7 summit held in Taormina, Sicily.

The Trump team was close to Russia during the election campaign, so now the verbal sparring between Moscow and Washington is all the more bitter. After the US sanctioned Russia, President Vladimir Putin responded by expelling 755 members of the state department from his country. Revenge indicates pain, as the Roman philosopher Seneca said.

Let’s draw comfort from the man who turned 70 on Sunday: Mr. Universe, Terminator, TV moderator and California governor. “Failure is not an option,” Arnold Schwarzenegger once said. “Everyone has to succeed.“ He also said that there are no shortcuts though, just repeat, repeat, repeat.


Picture of the day

breeches lifting picture alliance MB image swiss competition
Samuel Giger (left) and Christian Stucki compete for the title in Sunday's wrestling competition, known as "breeches-lifting" in Switzerland. The match took place at an altitude of 1,008 meters in the Brünig Pass. Source: Picture alliance
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