Ex-BMW man is new chief at Volk­swa­gen

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Alan Tovey

VOLK­SWA­GEN GROUP has an­nounced Her­bert Diess will take the top job at the Ger­man car gi­ant as Matthias Mueller steps down af­ter lead­ing the com­pany through the aftermath of the emis­sions scan­dal.

The su­per­vi­sory board of the com­pany – which also owns the Audi, Bent­ley, Porsche, SEAT and Skoda mar­ques – pulled for­ward to­day’s sched­uled board meet­ing to make the change, which also in­volved re­forms of the struc­ture of the huge com­pany. Mr Diess, pre­vi­ously head of Volk­swa­gen cars divi­sion, joined VW Group from BMW just months be­fore the “diesel gate” scan­dal broke in 2015.

He was widely seen as the nat­u­ral suc­ces­sor to Martin Win­terkorn, who re­signed from the top job five days af­ter the scale of VW’s de­cep­tion over emis­sions be­came clear.

Mr Mueller – a vet­eran of the Ger­man car com­pany – was pro­moted from his role head­ing the Porsche divi­sion to take the job head­ing the en­tire group. At the time his ap­point­ment was crit­i­cised by some who wanted a com­plete out­sider un­con­nected with the scan­dal that sent VW into cri­sis.

A shake-up of the com­pany was first flagged on Tues­day when VW Group is­sued an am­bigu­ous state­ment re­fer­ring to it “con­sid­er­ing a fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of the man­age­ment struc­ture of the group”.

This, it said, could in­clude “per­son­nel changes in the board of man­age­ment … a change to the chief ex­ec­u­tive could be in­volved”.

The com­pany’s state­ment con­cluded that Mr Mueller had “showed his gen­eral will­ing­ness to con­trib­ute to the changes”. A change of lead­er­ship will also pave the way for stream­lin­ing the VW Group’s un­wieldy struc­ture by group­ing sim­i­lar mar­ques to­gether and end­ing du­pli­ca­tion of func­tions such as R&D and mar­ket­ing in each brand.

The com­pany’s MAN and Sca­nia com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles brands could face be­ing spun off.

Last year an at­tempt to sell the Du­cati mo­tor­bike arm was blocked by unions, who have a pow­er­ful say in how the com­pany is run.

Half of VW Group’s 20-mem­ber su­per­vi­sory board is made up of union and em­ployee rep­re­sen­ta­tives – in ac­cor­dance with Ger­man law – with the other half con­sist­ing of in­vestors.

As a fur­ther part of the changes an­nounced yes­ter­day, Gun­nar Kil­ian, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Volk­swa­gen Group Works Coun­cil, has been ap­pointed the new mem­ber of the group board of man­age­ment for hu­man re­sources.

Oliver Blume, who heads up the Porsche brand, will join Volk­swa­gen’s man­age­ment board.

In the driv­ing seat: Her­bert Diess joined VW Group from its Ger­man ri­val just months be­fore ‘diesel­gate’ broke in 2015, so is un­tainted by the emis­sions scan­dal

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