Ferdinand Piech looked stoic — and isolated — as he made a surprise appearance last week at the annual meeting of the Porsche-Piech family’s holding company, which controls a majority stake in Volkswagen Group.
The industry patriarch, 80, took to the stage at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart ahead of most of the other Porsche and Piech family members who sit on Porsche Automobil Holding SE’s supervisory board.
Standing nearby, his cousin and bitter rival, Wolfgang Porsche, prepared himself for the duty of chairing the annual meeting. The two have clashed on countless occasions over policy and strategy for VW Group.
Piech had not attended the annual meeting for two years after he clashed with the family over the future of former VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn. Piech wanted him out, but Winterkorn survived, backed by VW’s key stakeholders. Winterkorn later quit when VW’s diesel-emissions cheating became public.
Piech has remained silent, except to give a statement to German prosecutors, which was leaked to the press, saying he had informed VW’s top directors about potential cheating on diesel-emissions tests six months before the scandal became public. VW denied Piech’s claim, which led to the final rift between him and the rest of the family.
Company insiders expect he will resign his board seat in several months, relinquishing his place once the sale of his 14.7 percent voting stake in Porsche SE, worth roughly 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion), to his younger brother Hans Michel Piech is completed. The resignation will cut Piech’s last ties with Porsche SE and thus VW.