VW chairman Dr Martin Winterkorn has rushed to deny German press suggestions that his resignation would follow any interference into the running of VW Group affairs by his rival, the Porsche boss Wendelin Wiedeking.
Porsche already owns the largest shareholding in VW, and has announced its intention to acquire a controlling interest in VW, despite current legal hurdles. Winterkorn and Wiedeking have been extensively portrayed in the German press as rivals; some say their rivalry is encouraged by Dr Ferdinand Piech, a ‘Bernie Ecclestone’ figure who sits on both the Porsche and VW supervisory boards and is patriarch of the family that controls Porsche.
“If Porsche starts intervening in our operations, then its boss Wendelin Wiedeking might have to do the top job himself”, Winterkorn is alleged to have told Der Spiegel. But soon after reports started appearing the VW chief’s spokesman issued Autocar with a statement of a far more emollient tone. “Dr Winterkorn doesn’t see the remotest chance that he will step down from his current position as chairman of the VW Group while the organisation is achieving such success,” said the statement.
Interestingly, Winterkorn’s spokesman did not bother to deny the Der Spiegel quote. “Dr Winterkorn is an engineer, not a politician,” he explained. “The statement was just a bit of exasperation, as if he were having a bad day at the office. Dr Winterkorn and Professor Wiedeking only see one another at motor shows, and once every two months at board meetings. But they’re both alpha males, so there might be something between them…”