A request that has met with substantial opposition, shareholder Qatar has asked Volkswagen for a seat on the company’s executive committee as they are frustrated with the pace of reform at Volkswagen, reported Reuters quoting two sources familiar with the matter.
The executive committee at Volkswagen has at present has six members including the company’s chairman, the head of VW’s works council, the state premier of Lower Saxony and the chief of trade union IG Metall. Qatar – the company’s third-largest shareholder with a 17 percent stake wants to join this executive the committee.
In order to keep a required balance between worker and shareholder representatives, an eighth position for a labor representative would also have to be created at the company executive committee if a new seat in the committee is to be created for Qatar. The shareholder has two seats on the broader 20-member supervisory board including Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker.
“There are certain reservations among the executive committee members that admitting two new representatives would weaken the ability of the committee to take decisions,” one of the people told Reuters, adding that the majority of the current members were opposed to such a move.
No decisions have yet been taken, the people said as the issue is still being discussed by the supervisory board and no decisions have yet been taken.
Qatar has recently grown impatient with the pace of reform amid opposition from labor representatives, the sources said even though it has been a largely passive investor in Europe’s largest carmaker.
Labor representatives, who control 9 seats on the 20-strong supervisory board, have voiced their opposition to the Volkswagen managers’ views who have been working on new plans to revive the company’s performance.
Accusing the VW brand chief Herbert Diess of cutting costs without consulting workers, the VW’s works council chief Bernd Osterloh, who leads the labor representatives, criticized Diess in November.
After a representative from Qatar said his view was not shared by the majority, Osterloh, who can normally rely on the support of two board members from VW’s home region of Lower Saxony, was forced to back down.
The sources said that since its two board members rarely speak at the meetings, the Qatari intervention was unusual.
Accusing him of betraying workers and trying to use the company’s Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal as a pretext for pushing through job cuts, Osterloh renewed his attack on Diess earlier this month.
Sources were quoted by Reuters as saying that since Volkswagen is obliged to fill board vacancies with female candidates until it reaches a 30 percent quota, the company has also asked Qatar to nominate a woman for the supervisory board, the sources reportedly told the news agency.
Reuters also reported quoting sources that VW needs to elect a woman to the supervisory board before it can formalize the board membership of new Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch at its annual shareholder meeting in June.
Volkswagen, the company’s works council, Qatar and Lower Saxony declined to comment
(Adapted from Reuters)