New VW supervisory board chairman


Chief financial officer Hans Dieter Pötsch is set to replace Ferdinand Piech as Volkwagen’s supervisory chief. The Austrian manager is meant to end a months-long power struggle that has shaken the German carmaker.

Ferdinand Piech, a scion of the Porsche family and former CEO of Volkswagen (VW) is to be replaced by financial executive Hans Dieter Pötsch (pictured above), the organizations announced at their headquarters in Stuttgart and Wolfsburg on Thursday.
“The executive and the nomination committees of Volkswagen AG’s supervisory council support the suggestion to vote Hans Dieter Pötsch into the supervisory council of Volkswagen AG and as its new chief,” VW said in a statement.
Pötsch will be voted into the supervisory board in a special meeting of shareholders in November and immediately elected its chairman in November, the two companies said.
Power struggle comes to an end
The decision ended a long-drawn battle that broke out earlier this year between Ferdinand Piech, whose Porsche SE owns the majority of shares in VW, and Martin Winterkorn, who Piech attempted to dislodge as the CEO.
The Porsche patriarch was however unable to get support from his own family members, who backed Winterkorn instead. Porsche SE is a family holding company and is different from the VW subsidiary Porsche, which makes cars.
Meanwhile, Winterkorn’s contract as the firm’s CEO had been extended until 2018, but it was still unclear whether he would vie for the supervisory head’s position after Piech left.
VW’s Chief Financial Officer Hans Dieter Pötsch is described as a calm, controlled and reserved person. The VW supervisory body’s deputy head Berthold Huber said Pötsch’s specialty was his strategic vision, his extensive knowledge of the automobile industry and expertise in financial markets.
The 64-year-old is considered one of the architects of VW’s takeover of Porsche in August 2012. Aside of his professional experience, Pötsch would also help bringing the management and the supervisory board together, Stefan Weil, chief minister of Lower Saxony, which owns one-fifth of Volkswagen AG, told journalists.
However, skeptics argue that the financial chief may not be the best choice for the company’s supervisory board. “We value Mr. Pötsch as the finance head, but we are against a direct change into the supervisory council,” Ingo Speich of Union Investment said. The head of a supervisory council needed to have a critical objectivity to scrutinize things that were going on within the company, Speich argued.