The German automaker held its Annual General Meeting in Hannover yesterday, the first in a baker's dozen years without Ferdinand Piëch presiding as chairman. The gavel was wielded instead by Berthold Huber, a labor representative on the board who was named as interim chair. Piëch was ousted along with his wife Ursula (who also sat on the board) after a failed attempt to push out Martin Winterkorn as CEO.
According to Winterkorn, in speaking with Reuters in an article published by Automotive News, the industrial giant is working hard at finding a new chairman in short order. "The executive committee and the supervisory board are working hard to swiftly resolve the remaining issues with regard to the composition of the supervisory bodies in the best possible manner," Winterkorn said.
The publication's German counterpart, however, paints a different picture. Speaking with Stephan Weil, the president of Lower Saxony who sits on the board as a shareholder representative, Automobilwoche says Volkswagen is in no rush to name a new chairman.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. What is clear, however, is that the new chairman will need broad support from the company's labor representatives as well as its shareholders – including the Porsche and Piëch families and government representatives from Lower Saxony and Qatar. Porsche Automobil Holding SE holds 50.7 percent of the company's shares, the State of Lower Saxony another 20 percent, Qatar 17 percent and the remaining 12.3 percent by other shareholders.
Some have speculated that Winterkorn could be promoted to the chairmanship of the Supervisory Board, but could end up having his term as chief executive (and chairman of the managing board) extended instead, with the chairmanship going to another candidate.