May 1, 2015 / 1:03 PM / 4 years ago

VW workers back new board members after Piech exit

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) works council has backed the carmaker’s choice of two new supervisory board members, appointments reportedly opposed by newly departed Chairman Ferdinand Piech.

Ferdinand Piech, chairman of the supervisory board of German carmaker Volkswagen, arrives at the annual shareholders meeting in Hanover in this April 25, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/Files

The labor officials, who control half the 20 seats on the supervisory board, forced Piech‎ out a week ago with the backing of Lower Saxony, VW’s No. 2 shareholder. They cited a breach of trust following a two-week public showdown Piech had provoked with Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn.

Ahead of a shareholder meeting on May 5, Europe’s largest carmaker installed two of Piech’s nieces as board members on Thursday, filling vacancies left by Piech and his wife, who also quit the 20-seat panel.

But Piech - a dominant figure at VW for more than two decades - is challenging the appointments of Louise Kiesling and Julia Kuhn-Piech, daily newspaper Bild reported on Thursday. 

Instead, he nominated long-time automotive manager Wolfgang Reitzle - seen as a potential replacement chairman - and former Siemens (SIEGn.DE) manager Brigitte Ederer, Bild said.

However labor representatives have backed the company’s choice of directors.

“We welcome this step to complete the supervisory board and are looking forward to co-operating with Mrs Kiesling and Mrs Kuhn-Piech,” a spokesman for the works council said on Friday.

In Germany any shareholder, the works council and the company itself are entitled to nominate a new member to fill a vacancy on the supervisory board between annual shareholder meetings via a court, a source familiar with the matter has told Reuters, citing the law on stock companies.

For Piech, the only way to thwart the VW appointments would be to bring legal action against the court ruling, the source said.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer and Ludwig Burger; Editing by Pravin Char

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