Wolfsburg: Power play

Piech could thwart Pischetsrieder agenda

While Volkswagen AG's choice of Bernd Pischetsrieder as its next CEO is clear, less clear is how much power Ferdinand Piech - the man he is replacing - will wield.

Piech will be named chairman of VW's 20-member nonexecutive supervisory board at the annual shareholder meeting April 16.

Under German corporate law, the supervisory board, not the CEO, appoints management board members. That is important because Pischetsrieder needs to assemble his own management team. Given Piech's reputation, the question becomes: Will Pischetsrieder be successful?

'Piech could pull all the strings,' one VW executive speculated. Piech has faced criticism for fostering a secretive, management-by-fear culture at VW.

'There is a lack of people equipped to be efficient managers,' says one analyst. 'No middle manager can make decisions because they haven't been used to doing so. All decisions have been pushed upward.'

You can reach Richard Feast at autonews@crain.com

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