VW board tried to dilute Lower Saxony influence: Der Spiegel

Fri May 20, 2016 11:54am EDT
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FRANKFURT/HAMBURG (Reuters) - A power struggle erupted on Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) supervisory board after the owning Porsche and Piech families joined representatives from Qatar in what proved to be a failed attempt to dilute the voting power of Lower Saxony, German magazine Der Spiegel said.

With 20 percent of voting rights in VW, Lower Saxony, where VW employs more than 100,000 staff, can veto decisions such as factory closures, which require a majority vote of more than 80 percent.

The joint action by the Porsche and Piech families and Qatar centered on an attempt to prevent a dividend payment for preference shareholders for 2015, the weekly said. This would have diluted Lower Saxony's voting rights.

Lower Saxony blocked the attempt to stop dividend payments by teaming up with VW's worker representatives, who have 10 of the supervisory board's 20 seats, Der Spiegel said.

VW and Lower Saxony declined to comment on the report.

A spokesman for Porsche Autmobil Holding SE, the investment company via which the Porsche and Piech families hold 52.2 percent of voting rights in VW, said there was no power struggle among VW's large shareholders.

"Porsche SE, together with Lower Saxony and Qatar supports VW's management in its efforts to resolve the emissions issue and develop a new strategy," it said.

Qatar is VW's third-largest shareholder with a 17 percent stake and two seats on the supervisory board.

Activist hedge fund TCI has been putting pressure on Lower Saxony to stop blocking efforts to make the carmaker more efficient.   Continued...

A Volkswagen logo is pictured at Volkswagen's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, April 22, 2016.     REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke