Piech to kids: Don't touch the auto empire!

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor of Automotive News Europe
Given his history of making shrewd long-term business decisions, it makes sense that Ferdinand Piech wants to ensure that no one – especially members of his family – can mess with his auto empire before or after he dies.

The Volkswagen chairman and member of the family that controls Porsche has placed his personal fortune in two trusts that make it "almost impossible" for his heirs to sell his 7 percent stake in Porsche Automobil Holding, which controls carmakers Porsche AG and VW, as well as his 10 percent share in Austria-based Porsche Holding.

Piech will be the chairman of both trusts and after his death his wife, Ursula, will preside over them, German media reported this week.

VW is taking control of both Porsche AG and Porsche Holding, which ranks No. 1 on the Automotive News Europe list of the top 25 European dealer groups with sales of 13.65 billion euros in 2009.

Some of Piech's 12 children and four wives are dissatisfied with his decision, German magazine Focus reported, without saying how it got the information.

Meanwhile, VW union boss Bernd Osterloh praised Piech, saying that the transfer is a positive sign of sustainable stability and commitment to the company, German business daily Handelsblatt reported.

Piech, who is the grandson of Volkswagen Beetle designer Ferdinand Porsche and nephew of Porsche founder Ferry Porsche, has spent decades crafting VW into a multibrand megapower with a portfolio of brands that is a serious challenger to No. 1 Toyota.

He has a right to protect his legacy and to make sure that his hard work is not unraveled in the interest of making a quick buck.