Shareholders at the MAN annual general meeting (AGM) today have spoken out against Ferdinand Piech, who is likely to be appointed head of the supervisory board at the meeting.

One shareholder spoke of Piech’s ‘bad style’. According to Automobilwoche, another said that MAN’s CEO, Hakan Samuelsson, had done so much to make MAN a highly profitable company that his removal would not be a good result.

Piech’s appointment at the head of the MAN supervisory board is expected to smooth the way for a merger with Scania and VW‘s Brazilian commercial vehicles operation, but Samuelsson’s future in a newly merged company is not guaranteed. There was also criticism of Piech’s age. At 70, one shareholder said, he “should take his finger off stock exchange quoted companies.”

These criticisms are largely academic. As Volkswagen is by far the largest MAN shareholder with over 30% of the shares, objections from small shareholders will hold little weight.

MAN announced today that it would raise its targeted returns and set a new average ROS target of 8.5% through to 2010. Recent ROS has been 6.0%. “In order to attain this new benchmark, we will have to implement structural improvements of EUR250m over the coming years,” said Samuelsson.

In future, the ROCE target will be at least 22% (up from 18%). To upgrade profitability the executive board has defined a number of essential measures: Commercial vehicles will further strengthen its operations in such growth markets as C&E Europe and expand its sales and service networks.

Diesel engines and turbo machinery will rigorously broaden worldwide their profitable service business. At industrial services low-margin activities will be improved.

“We have set ourselves ambitious targets for both the group and the individual business areas; in view of what we have so far achieved, these targets are realistic,” added Samuelsson. Parallel to these profitability targets, it is also planned to push ahead with the expansion of all business areas; for the period up to 2010, this represents an annual growth of 10%.