Austrian Hans Dieter Poetsch, Volkswagen AG’s unassuming finance boss since way back in 2003 has been tipped by the supervisory board as their proposal to take over the position of chairman.
The role has been vacated back in April by Ferdinand Piech, the long standing chairman that also acts as the patriarch for the controlling Porsche-Piech clan. But his clash over strategy with chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn at the start of the year has seen the latter emerge victorious and now he also has his contract extended through 2018. Returning to Poetsch, he’s in for a fight – he will need to carefully balance the warring factions that hold stakes in the (interim) largest automaker in the world as they showed their support for his naming and also tackle the major issue – profitability. The Volkswagen Group with its massive streak of brands – from the mass-market peers such as Skoda and Volkswagen to supercar marquees such as Lamborghini or ultra-luxury exclusives as Bugatti to heavy trucks Man and Scania – has managed to become the world’s biggest carmaker years ahead of schedule (it’s an interim title because it’s based on sales from the first six months of the year).
But it’s also an often difficult group to manage – radical plans can be easily undone by the influential labor officials or the home state of Lower Saxony, which is a major shareholder. Poetsch seems to have been elected in the function because after 13 years of financial ruling he remained relatively neutral, knows well the inner workings of the company and is seen by all as an nonthreatening figure.