GERMANY: Wiedeking and Piech split over VW future

By just-auto.com editorial team | 19 November 2007

A split is emerging between Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking, and Porsche and VW Group supervisory board chief, Ferdinand Piech, over future strategy for the Volkswagen Group.

According to the news magazine Focus, Wiedeking is questioning the VW strategy, originally put in place by Piech, that allows Audi to compete with Volkswagen in certain segments.

The Audi A3, for example, competes directly with the market-leading Golf. In addition Wiedking would prefer Skoda and Seat to be positioned as regional brands, so they do not take sales from VW. Wideking also is reportedly questioning the role of the luxury brands Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini which were brought in to the group by Piech.

Focus said Wiedeking plans massive changes at Volkswagen with the backing of the Porsche family.

A Porsche spokesman told the German press agency that the story was pure speculation.

A separate story in Spiegel magazine speculated that Piech is considering appointing BMW's former chairman, Wolfgang Reitzle, to the supervisory board.

VW workers representative, Bernd Osterloh, has called on Porsche management to be clear about its strategy for Volkswagen. In a recent letter, Osterloh reportedly asked to be allowed on to the Porsche Holding supervisory board and works council immediately. Osterloh argued that, with its current 31% shareholding, Porsche Holding effectively already controls Volkswagen. Porsche is resisting any VW worker representation until its stake exceeds 50%.

Volkswagen's main union, IG Metall, is threatening massive protest action against Porsche and its plans for Volkswagen's 324,000 workers to be represented on the new Porsche Holding board at the same ratio as Porsche's 12,000 workers.

On Friday, 100 workers protested outside a hotel in Wolfsburg where Wendelin Wiedeking was staying ahead of a Volkswagen supervisory board meeting. Unions said they could assemble bigger protests in Stuttgart if necessary.

IG Metall leaders want Porsche management to sit down and talk to them about worker representation. Porsche tried to ease workers concerns with an open letter published in newspapers last week.