Volkswagen Boardroom Battle: Piech Resigns As Chairman Photo:
Trevor Collett | Apr, 26 2015 | 11 Comments

A boardroom battle at Europe's biggest car manufacturer, Volkswagen, has resulted in the resignation of the Chairman of the Board, Dr Ferdinand Piëch, effective immediately. His wife Ursula has also headed for the door.

His resignation - a forced one - follows a troubled month at the top of the German manufacturing colossus.

As reported earlier in April, Dr Piëch put himself at loggerheads with CEO Martin Winterkorn over the brand's performance under Winterkorn, particularly in the tough US market.

While the acrimony has apparently been building for months behind the boardroom door, it was aired for all to see following comments Mr Piëch gave Der Spiegel magazine criticising his chief executive.

In what would appear to be a putsch gone wrong, a boardroom showdown between the two protagonists resulted in a crushing defeat for Piëch - the board voting five-to-one against the ageing patriarch's motion to have his former protégé Winterkorn removed.

In a statement, Volkswagen said the members of the Executive Committee “have unanimously determined that in view of the background of the last weeks the mutual trust necessary for successful cooperation no longer exists”.

At the age of 78, Mr Piëch’s resignation as chairman and from the board itself may permanently end his involvement with Volkswagen following more than two decades with the German carmaker.

However, as the Piëch and Porsche families still control 51 percent of the voting rights, Ferdinand may still influence the company from the sidelines - and his cousin Wolfgang Porsche is still on the board.

Mr Porsche voted against Mr Piëch’s move to oust Winterkorn as CEO, so the pair may need to settle any differences first.

The Chairman’s role will temporarily be filled by Deputy Chairman Berthold Huber, who is now charged with chairing the board meeting on May 4 and the Annual General Meeting the following day.

Mr Huber said Volkswagen owed its thousands of staff certainty, prompting the hasty move to end the infighting.

The election of a new chairman will occur at some point after the AGM. Mr Piëch’s term as chairman was due to run until at least April 2017.

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