by Jan Schwartz
HAMBURG, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Volkswagen’s majority shareholder families are seeking more control of Europe’s biggest automaker ahead of Porsche’s planned IPO, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Porsche and Piëch families, which control the Porsche SE holding company, which itself holds most of Volkswagen’s voting rights, are hoping to lead the group back to calmer waters after a turbulent period under outgoing chief executive Herbert Diess. the sources said.
“They want to keep a closer eye on the implementation of strategic directions,” a person familiar with the families’ strategic thinking told Reuters.
Herbert Diess’ direct style has met with some resistance within the company, which has sometimes overshadowed his successes, testing the patience of families, the sources say.
“Families are actively involved – a capability they have long been thought incapable of,” a second source said.
This influence has already resulted in the appointment of Oliver Blume as chairman of the management board of Volkswagen. The move drew criticism from several investors as he will also remain at the helm of Porsche AG, even after a potential IPO.
Billed as the “preferred candidate” of the Porsche and Piëch clan, Oliver Blume is expected to complete the IPO of Porsche AG, the sources said.
Porsche SE and Volkswagen declined to comment.
This listing would allow families to once again become direct shareholders of Porsche AG, acquired by Volkswagen in 2009.
“The structure of the IPO primarily caters to families’ interest in tightening their grip on Porsche, and they won’t be deterred from it,” said Hendrik Schmidt, corporate governance expert at DWS, who holds Volkswagen and Porsche SE shares.
The IPO, which has yet to be confirmed, would give the Porsche and Piëch families a blocking minority in the brand founded by their ancestor Ferdinand Porsche in 1931. (with contributions from Christoph Steitz; French version Valentine Baldassari, editing by Kate Entringer)