Long-running VW Ag chairman Ferdinand Piech, the 78-year old grandson of Ferdinand Porsche – VW’s founder – unexpectedly resigned from his position on Saturday, ending a dispute over the chief executive’s fate.
His row started the past few weeks as the chairman publicly withdrew his support for Martin Winterkorn, in an apparent bid to force him out of the company and make sure he would not be the successor to the chairman position once Piech’s mandate ended in 2017. But, according to people that have knowledge of the board’s decisions, Piech manufactured his untimely demise by backing out of the agreement to support Winterkorn and secretly scheming to get him out of the company instead. Last week there was news that Piech was aiming to get Matthias Mueller, the chief executive of Porsche, in Winterkorn’s position helming the group – lobbying his powerful family members in that direction. The firm’s influent works council and the automaker’s home state of Lower Saxony – a key stakeholder – demanded a second emergency meeting of senior board members. “It was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back,” commented for Reuters a person close to the VW board’s labor officials.
It appears that on Saturday Piehc was presented with an ultimatum – resign at his own free will or get voted off the board in an image-snarling procedure. Naturally, neither Piech, nor senior board members have any comments on the departure, which was carefully announced by VW and a committee of board managers. Piech’s demise marks an end to an era – more than two decades he had the power to oust executives as he pleased or sift through key strategies at his own will.