FRANKFURT -- Two big shareholders in Volkswagen have criticized rival Porsche's purchase of a 19-percent stake in the carmaker, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
Tweedy Browne of the United States, a top-10 investor, told the newspaper it was opposed to anyone on VW's supervisory board associated with Porsche -- by implication Ferdinand Piech, VW's non-executive chairman and a large Porsche shareholder, the newspaper reported.
Germany's Union Investment, another of the top 10 investors in the company, said it was conceivable that it too could push for Piech to step down but that it had not yet decided, the paper reported.
"No member of Porsche management (or large investor) should be on the board," Tom Schrager, managing partner at Tweedy Browne, was quoted as saying in the newspaper. "From a corporate governance standpoint it would be the most beneficial thing to do."
Porsche is now the largest VW shareholder, owning a bigger stake than the state of Lower Saxony, which owns 18.2 percent of VW.
Volkswagen has said that it wants to expand cooperation with Porsche but has pledged to hold its single largest shareholder at arm's length.
A report commissioned by Volkswagen has suggested that Piech should step down as its supervisory board chairman to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
At issue is whether Porsche's role as a major Volkswagen shareholder gives it unacceptable influence over a company that is also its business partner and competitor.