VeeDub Board Cashes In. Big-time
For a long time, European and Japanese auto execs looked longingly at their American colleagues who command princely salaries (along with a royal air force.) The times and sums, they are a-changing. Chump change we’re talking not. Porsche’s Wendelin Wiedeking and his CFO Holger Härter already come close to benchmark-setting Wagoner. But Porsche is different; after all; they’re a bank with attached sheetmetal-fabrication. Now, it’s raining money on the leaders of Porsche’s takeover target, Volkswagen. The Financial Times learned that “Volkswagen’s five executive board members made $31.7m selling shares in the middle of a controversial share spike at Europe’s largest car maker.” They were not alone.
Volkswagen announced that “large parts of the workforce” sold shares from VW’s options program, and together “collected a three-digit million euros sum.” To deflect criticism, the five execs quickly announced that they would donate 10 percent of their sudden windfall to charity. The Bürgerstiftung in Wolfsburg helps children in need, and only a battalion of Scrooges will deny them $3m before Christmas. (A call to my German CPA revealed that donations to charitable organizations are tax-deductible.)
To cash in on the sudden spike of the VW share required some nimble dealing. In the US, transactions like these would attract the SEC’s insider trading squad, but this is Germany. Bafin, the German securities watchdog, had launched an investigation last month. But since then, no growling, barking, or even excited tail-wagging has been reported. And an entire workforce that received hundreds of millions should have a benign view of those who just made them richer.
Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.
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