VW says chairman not stepping down
Berlin, September 7, 2013
Volkswagen has denied its chairman Ferdinand Piech plans to step down in coming months, rebutting a newspaper report that he would depart for health reasons to make way for chief executive Martin Winterkorn.
The Wolfsburg-based group, known for its top-selling Golf model, rebuffed a report in business daily Handelsblatt, saying 76-year-old Piech was in the best of health and would continue to run VW's supervisory board for a long time.
Piech, whose contract was renewed for five years in 2012, was quoted by Spiegel magazine yesterday as saying: "Those who are declared dead live longer".
But that may not dampen speculation about how VW will cope after Piech, a brilliant tactician who has run the firm for 20 years, first as chief executive then as chairman since 2002.
The report comes ahead of the Frankfurt Auto Show, where Europe's No 1 carmaker will hope attention will be focused on the models it is showing, such as its first battery-powered cars, the Up subcompact and a battery-driven version of the Golf hatchback.
"VW to date has not anointed potential heirs to Piech and Winterkorn," Helmut Becker, a former chief economist at BMW who now runs a consulting business in Munich, said. "They have let the succession theme slide for a long time."
Handelsblatt had earlier cited sources close to Piech as saying 66-year-old Winterkorn was earmarked as a successor to Piech and that 62-year-old finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch would run the company until a longer-term solution could be found.-Reuters