FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The Piech and Porsche families that control more than 52 percent of Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) have vowed to back senior management, setting aside past disputes as the carmaker struggles to overcome an emissions scandal, Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.
In a rare interview, Hans Michel Piech and Wolfgang Porsche pledged support for VW chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and chief executive Matthias Mueller, and said they would stay out of daily operational affairs at Germany’s biggest carmaker.
The two families had clashed when Ferdinand Piech was his family’s representative on Volkswagen’s supervisory board, a post he resigned from last year, clearing the way for his brother, Hans Michel.
Some investors feared bickering between the two families would hamper decision-making as the company works to cut costs and adapt to new industry trends such as electronic and autonomous driving.
“We are different and we see our task as representatives of the families different,” Hans Michel Piech was quoted as saying, but he and Wolfgang Porsche both emphasized their ability to find consensus.
Porsche said that would remain the case despite a recent decision to increase the number of family members with voting power to 34.
“Not all 34 will become supervisory board members, or have a say in discussions, and not all of them want to. What is important is that the next generation of suitable family members have an interest in the matter and do not simply wait for the dividend to arrive,” he said.
Volkswagen has suffered its worst-ever crisis since admitting in September 2015 it used sophisticated secret software in its cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests, with millions of vehicles worldwide affected.
The company has set aside 17.8 billion euros ($19.37 billion) to pay for costs related to the scandal.
($1 = 0.9189 euros)
Reporting by Harro ten Wolde and Edward Taylor