In an attempt to decrease the feud between Chairman Ferdinand Piech and CEO Martin Winterkorn, key shareholders of Volkswagen AG’s supervisory board strongly and publicly endorsed the German automaker’s chief officer only a day after they met with both of the two men.
The executive committee made up of six members released on Friday a statement saying that Winkerton is the “best possible” leader, offering him its full support. It also suggested extending Winkerton’s contract a week after Ferdinand Piech stated he lacked confidence in the current CEO, raising questions about his future at the helms of the automaker brand.
The committee proposed for the full board to extend Winkertorn’s contract starting February the following year and the proposal was welcomed by the state of Lower Saxony, which is a major Volkswagen shareholder with 20% of Volkswagen’s voting rights and two seats on its supervisory board. Lower Saxony is a strong believer in Winkertorn and desires to work close to him, emphasizing that the company has seen excellent development in the past years thanks to him.
Piech, 78, did not manage to convince the other members of the exec committee to withdraw their support for Winkertorn, which signals a defeat for him after the committee reached a decision in favor of the current CEO of Volkswagen.
Winkertorn, 67, has expressed his determination to serve out his leadership role to the end of 2016 and according to a person familiar with the content of the committee meeting, he convinced the members of the supervisory board to let him do so due to his strategic plans regarding Volkswagen. It is yet to be seen whether or not Winkertorn will become the head of the automaker’s supervisory board when he ends his term as CEO, but until 2017 Piech is set to head the board and continue with his own agenda.
By Gabriela Florea