Wolkswagen's Ferdinand Piech was elected to the MAN supervisory board at the group's annual general meeting yesterday, but with an approval rating of just 73%.

This is extremely low for a shareholder meeting, which normally elects board members with a mandate of over 99%, noted Reuters.

A board meeting after the shareholder meeting elected Piech as chair of the supervisory board.

The future of Hakan Samuelsson as CEO is unclear. Shareholders objected to Piech on the grounds that he would push through Volkswagen's interests. VW wants to become a major player in the global truck industry by merging MAN, Scania and its Brazilian truck operations. The German car manufacturer is the largest shareholder in both MAN and Scania.

Samuelsson is in favour of a merger of MAN and Scania. Indeed he initiated a hostile takeover of Scania that was unsuccessful. But Samuelsson may have to go because hostility between himself and Scania management proved to finally be a barrier to successful negotiations.

Shareholders are concerned that an attempt to push the merger through may be at the expense of maintaining recent record profit levels at MAN, as overseen by Samuelsson.

A big argument erupted at the AGM over concerns that Piech had reached a written agreement with MAN staff guaranteeing jobs. A statement from Piech was read in which he denied that the had reached a leagally binding deal with labour. MAN works council chief, Lothar Pholmann, denied that he had told the press that such a deal had been reached.