There appears to be strong support for Ferdinand Piëch to remain a member of the Volkswagen supervisory board, beyond the end of his term in April.
Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking was quoted by dpa-AFX as saying, “there is nothing that anyone can say to suggest that he does not have more to contribute.”
Head of the works council Bernd Osterloh, who is also a member of the supervisory board, said that Piëch is an ‘exceptional automotive expert” and that he would welcome Piëch remaining on the board. If the shareholder representatives decided that was appropriate, the workers representatives would support that 100%, added Osterloh.
Opposition to Piëch remaining on the board comes from Volkswagen’s second largest shareholder after Porsche, the state of Lower Saxony, represented by state president Christian Wulff. He is concerned that Porsche already has too much control over Volkswagen Group, and would like to see that influence reduced.
A year ago Wulff and Wiedeking agreed that a ‘neutral manager’ would be appointed to succeed Piëch as head the supervisory board, rather than a Porsche representative. Wulff then went on to call for Piëch to stand down completely. Wulff has called for Piëch to step down from the supervisory board at the next annual general meeting in April.
In December Wulff called for Porsche to have more influence in the next supervisory board, and suggested that the company might have three seats, up from the current two (out of a total of six seats). The other Porsche representative is currently the automaker’s chief financial officer, Holger Härter
Wiedeking is also in favour of repealing the so-called ‘VW Law’. It dates back to 1960 and says that no shareholder can exercise more than a fifth of VW’s voting rights no matter how many shares are owned. With a change in the law, Porsche could essentially have control of Volkswagen. The European Union has been trying to overturn the law, which it sees as a barrier to the free movement of capital. The German government and the state of Lower Saxony maintain that the law conforms with EU laws.
The law will be considered by the European Court of Justice on 13 February, a date that Wiedeking has marked in his diary as very important. He has told reporters that Porsche’s medium term strategy is dependent on the court’s decision.