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VW does not need chairman until new structure is set -labour chief

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 19:45
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Volkswagen has no need to install a permanent chairman until a new corporate structure has been set, the company's powerful labour chief told Reuters, adding it should keep expanding with new products like a full-sized pickup truck.

[WOLFSBURG, Germany] Volkswagen has no need to install a permanent chairman until a new corporate structure has been set, the company's powerful labour chief told Reuters, adding it should keep expanding with new products like a full-sized pickup truck.

Europe's largest carmaker has been on the lookout for a full-time chairman since April, when Ferdinand Piech was ousted, leaving Volkswagen's labour representatives, who control half the seats on the supervisory board, and the State of Lower Saxony, which owns 20 per cent of VW, to fill the power vacuum.

"We want to first have a debate about the company structure, then we can talk about a supervisory board chair," Bernd Osterloh, who is head of Volkswagen's works council, told Reuters.

Mr Osterloh has emerged as a more powerful figure within VW since Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn relied on his backing to fend off a challenge from Piech.

"We have not yet begun a debate about the supervisory board chief," Mr Osterloh said, adding that the issue will be discussed during the course of the year.

Volkswagen Group's corporate structure should be adjusted to reflect the company's various modular production platforms: MQB for small to mid-sized cars, MLB for larger vehicles and MSB for sports cars, Mr Osterloh said.

"A new corporate structure needs to reflect these modular platforms. The individual brands should be forced to adhere to the specifications of the various platforms," Mr Osterloh said, saying that some brands had undertaken extensive and costly modifications of the platforms in the past.

The company's structure is currently based around its various brands, which include Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti, Skoda and Seat passenger cars as well as MAN and Scania trucks.

"Decisions about modular platforms must be taken in Wolfsburg," Mr Osterloh said, adding that the group's headquarters in Wolfsburg should receive the power to oversee whether the brands are complying with the platforms' specifications.

He said in his view, a proposed company structure should be ready to be presented in September, including a strategy that goes beyond 2018.

"The company needs to be able to take decisions quicker, and a smaller management board. Regions need more competence to take decisions," Mr Osterloh said.

The company's attempts to expand in the United States have so far failed to gain traction, Mr Osterloh said. To succeed going forward, the company should think about entering the segment of large pick-up trucks.

"We want to accelerate efforts to catch up with rivals. To do this, a pick-up is needed in the medium term," Mr Osterloh said.

REUTERS