Thursday, November 18, 2021
Search for successors is ongoing
VW CEO Diess remains counted
Peace simply does not want to return behind the walls of the Wolfsburg corporate headquarters. Has Volkswagen boss Diess overstepped the curve? While supervisory board chairman Pötsch is still trying to mediate, a new name suddenly appears as a possible successor. He is considered less frosty than Diess.
To the outside world, it recently looked like a successful truce at Volkswagen. In the ongoing battle between Herbert Diess and the works council and other executives, calm suddenly seemed to have returned. Behind the Wolfsburg corporate walls, however, things are still simmering. The solo efforts and provocations, with which the group boss has caused a lot of internal displeasure in recent weeks, apparently echo louder than expected.
This has been heavily criticized for some time. The workers had recently stated that they lacked confidence in the CEO. And the top management team around Diess is also divided when it comes to the leadership qualities of the frosty corporate leader. China boss Stephan Wöllenstein felt the hard hand of Diess. After three years in office, he will have to give up his post after long speculations because of the weakness of electric cars in China. Wöllenstein was once considered a confidante of Diess. The mediation committee of the supervisory board is currently trying hard to restore peace in the group.
However, arbitration negotiations are evidently difficult. So difficult that, according to the business portal Business Insider, Diess must continue to fear for his job. The works council, union and politics have distanced themselves from the manager, who would prove to be unteachable, it is said. One person is stepping out of the shadow of the group leader more and more: VW brand boss Ralf Brandstätter, who succeeded the head of the core brand on July 1, 2020 after Diess was appointed to the top of the group.
The fact that Brandstätter will allegedly be promoted to a member of the group’s board of directors in the near future, as the portal claims to have learned from informed circles, speaks for a further rise on the career ladder and possibly also the potential to get to the top of the group. Many a supervisor on the supervisory board is said to have thought further and acted Brandstätter as a serious alternative to Diess.
Will Brandstätter, VW brand boss, succeed Diess?
The Chairman of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand is a contrast to his predecessor: He is not considered frosty, but emphatic. While Diess is rumbling, Brandstätter scores with genteel restraint. He was “quieter and less offensive, but still determined and goal-oriented,” summarized an insider in Wolfsburg in the spring. At first Brandstätter didn’t want to make any mistakes, but now he seems to have swum free with his own way.
Brandstätter stands for a “real change in leadership at the top”, a member of the control committee is quoted as saying. “He has the skills that Diess lacks.” Should the choice actually fall on Brandstätter, the works council’s encouragement should be guaranteed. As a native of Braunschweig and a trained fitter, Brandstätter has spent his entire professional life at VW.
On behalf of the owner families, supervisory board chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch is currently supposed to act as an arbitrator for Diess to stay – also out of fear of the consequences for the share price. The next few days should show whether he will succeed in convincing the works council, the trade union and the state of Lower Saxony to go together with Diess at the top.
Meanwhile, Brandstätter is not the only name that comes up when it comes to possible successors for Diess: The owner families themselves allegedly favor Porsche boss Oliver Blume. Another candidate to be taken seriously is Audi boss Markus Duesmann. In the end, however, Thomas Schäfer, CEO of VW’s Czech high-volume brand, could also be the surprise winner, should Diess not be able to hold up. Schäfer was a former head of South Africa, so he has experience abroad. In addition, it is considered well-wired in the works council. The owner families should also be favored by him. Some top managers are supposed to give him at least chances as a transitional head.