BERLIN -- Volkswagen Group faces increasing pressure to reform as the embattled automaker prepares to publish this week intermediate results from a probe into its emissions scandal.
Key stakeholder, the Qatar Investment Authority, is urging VW to scale back the role of its influential works council, German media reports said.
VW has provided little information on the people and processes involved in rigging diesel vehicles to pass U.S. emissions tests and providing inaccurate carbon-dioxide data in Europe. The company is due to publish intermediate results from its probe into the scandal on Thursday.
"We believe Thursday will provide the first significant watershed" on the scandal, with details about recalls, the investigation and strategic shifts expected, Arndt Ellinghorst, a London-based analyst with Evercore ISI, said in a note. Greater transparency "will be a positive trigger for the stock," he said.
VW's supervisory board will hold an out-of-sequence meeting on Wednesday to discuss the state of investigations. The board includes two members from the Qatar fund. VW's works council representatives hold half of the seats on the 20-member board. It has a great influence at the German company and has headed off cost cuts in the past.
VW Group CEO Matthias Mueller and Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch traveled to Doha at the weekend to discuss with Qatar the state of investigations, as well as VW's new company structure and future business focus.
VW described the visit as communicating with "an important partner" and said the role of the works council was not on the agenda of the talks.
The Qatar sovereign wealth fund is VW's third-biggest shareholder with a 17 percent stake. A collapse in VW's share price following the emissions scandal has cost the fund 3 billion euros ($3.25 billion), German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported.
VW is facing a scandal on three fronts: It has admitted that up to 11 million VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat diesel cars sold worldwide may have illegal software to fool tests for NOx emissions. The company also said it understated CO2 ratings and therefore fuel economy on about 800,000 vehicles in Europe. U.S. regulators have also targeted 85,000 VW, Audi and Porsche models with 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engines fitted with emissions-control equipment that was not properly disclosed.
The scandal has wiped billions off VW's stock market value and Mueller has said the automaker will have to make massive cuts to meet a bill that analysts say could top 40 billion euros ($44 billion) for fines, lawsuits and vehicle refits.
While VW is nearing regulatory approval for a low-cost fix for some 8.5 million cars in Europe fitted with NOx emissions-rigging software, its proposals are still under review in the U.S., where regulation is more stringent. The cost of buying back the affected U.S. vehicles could total as much as $9.4 billion, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
Thursday’s investor briefing and press conference will be the second time CEO Mueller has engaged directly with the broader shareholder and analyst community since the scandal broke. The first was when VW said in October that the company slumped in the third quarter to its first quarterly deficit in more than 15 years.
Last week, VW said its top engineer, Ulrich Hackenberg, will leave the group. Hackenberg, who was VW Group and Audi r&d boss, was suspended shortly after the scandal broke, along with VW brand r&d boss Heinz-Jakob Neusser and Porsche development head Wolfgang Hatz.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report