VW set to replace CEO in management overhaul

Apr 13, 2018, 03:51
VW set to replace CEO in management overhaul

With Mr Mueller agreeing to go, the controlling Porsche-Piech clan, the state of Lower Saxony and powerful labour leaders settled on Herbert Diess, chief of the namesake brand, as successor, ruling out other top executives such as the chief financial officer, the heavy-trucks chief and Porsche CEO, the people said.

64-year-old Mr Mueller, always a reluctant CEO who had grown tired of the regular grillings by board members, responded during the talks by signalling he was prepared to step aside, they said.

Since the scandal broke in September, 2015, numerous company's top executives have been tossed overboard. Amid opposition from labour leaders, he failed to sell motorbike maker Ducati previous year.

Mueller held the top job for more than 2½ years after succeeding CEO Martin Winterkorn, who was ousted days after the company's diesel pollution scandal was exposed in September 2015. "Unions and Lower Saxony together have the power to block his appointment".

The announcement was made after Volkswagen directors ousted Mueller and deliberated ways to reform an empire which has motorbike, bus, truck and passenger vehicle brands including Ducati, Bentley, Porsche, Audi, Scania and Skoda.

"Diess is ready to weather conflict, which is important to make things happen in a company like Volkswagen", said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the University of Duisburg-Essen's Center for Automotive Research.

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That plan comes as rivals, including Fiat Chrysler and Daimler, consider spin-offs or legally separate divisions to boost their share prices and raise cash to fund development of electric and self-driving cars.

Volkswagen on Tuesday issued a cryptic statement saying Mueller has "showed his general willingness" to contribute to changes to the CEO job as part of a review of the group's management structure. His contract is due to run until 2020.

Since then, Diess has worked to overcome the reputational damage from the emissions cheating scandal, as well as to cut costs and increase profits at the core Volkswagen brand.

"Mueller has expressed frustration with the pace of Volkswagen's transformation and more recently about his ability to turn around the brand's image following revelations the company had tested toxic fumes on monkeys".

Mueller had "signalled he was open to play a part in the changes" in conversations with supervisory board chief Hans Dieter Poetsch, the company said in a statement.

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