By on May 18, 2009

Today, the supervisory board of Porsche has a sit-down in their super-secret R&D center in Weissach near Stuttgart. On the agenda: “How do we get out of this mess?” The meeting might not be very constructive. The board is heavy with members of both sides of the feuding Porsche and Piech clan. Ferdinand Piech himself will be there, along with Uwe Hück, head of the Porsche workers council. Last week, the former professional Thai boxer Hück had threatened he would report Piech to the authorities, on grounds of yet to be specified violations of securities laws. Only fools make idle threats to Piech.

Should it become physical, the diminutive Piech will lose. In a more civilized fight of words, Piech always wins. The supervisory board will be asked to increase the capital by €5b. The Piech and Porsche sides will try to settle their differences. And Ferdinand Piech will work on his plan: Takeover of Porsche by Volkswagen. Not the other way round. And to humiliate bad boy Wiedeking …

In the meantime, all official negotiations between Porsche and Volkswagen have come to a grinding halt. A meeting scheduled for today has been canceled; that piece of earth shattering news made headlines from Reuters to Bloomberg, to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. VW says the discussions had been halted “for an indefinite time” due to “a lack of a constructive atmosphere.” Porsche sees it different, Der Spiegel writes: According to Porsche, just the Monday meeting had been rescheduled. “The negotiations continue. Follow-up meetings have been arranged.”

Truth is, Wolfsburg wants to give Porsche a little time to face the music and the inevitable. That epiphany may come today. Porsche is up against a united front in Wolfsburg. Piech, the board of directors, the unions, and the state of Lower Saxony have joined together to put Wiedeking in his place. Porsche is short of money. VW sits on a pile of cash. There may be more . . .

Spiegel magazine said Porsche was considering whether it could get a loan from KfW, Germany’s state-owned development bank that is running some of the government’s economic stimulus programs for the corporate sector.

Piech already offered Wiedeking a new job at Volkswagen, under conditions. “He would have to step several rungs down the ladder. He would have to be demure,” Master Dominator Piech said, according to Die Zeit. Opines Reuters: “Such comments from Piech, who is also a major shareholder in Porsche, has ended the careers of other managers.” Especially if it’s an alpha male like Wiedeking.

FLASH: Our spy in Weissach reports that only 15 members of the 16 member supervisory board are meeting behind closed doors. AWOL: Ferdinand Piech. He snubbed even his own family meeting.

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7 Comments on “Piech Wants A “Demure” Wiedeking...”


  • avatar
    John Horner

    Shades of the family feuds which bedeviled Ford Motor Company for decades.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Piech is every bit an equal to Henry II, maybe even of Henry the Founder. Piech’s moves however don’t seem to cause permanant damage to the company the way the Ford’s did, however.

  • avatar
    SpeedRacerrrrr

    Only fools make idle threats to Piech

    Is it an idle threat? Hück might as well posture, since if Porsche becomes a part of VW, he will lose his job anyway.

    Piech’s moves however don’t seem to cause permanant damage to the company the way the Ford’s did

    Unlike with the Fords, you can say that Porsche is what it became through Piech’s efforts rather than inspite of them.

    Piech already offered Wiedeking a new job at Volkswagen, under conditions. “He would have to step several rungs down the ladder. He would have to be demure,”

    Piech complimented Wiedeking’s performance in his book Auto.Biographie. Wiedeking’s failure was to get Porsche (the car company) into this financial bind in the first place. It is the classic problem. One pushes to get better performance in the moment, taking big risks in the process (the entrepreneurial way, right?). When Wiedeking was rising fast in Porsche, he threw Helmuth Bott under the bus, claiming before the Board that Bott was putting the company in a financial bind with the development process that led to the 959. Every top manager at Porsche from Fuhrmann on has met with this fate. In a family-run company, where blood is thicker than water, you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

    I won’t worry too much, however, about a guy who is said to have made €72,600,000 in 2007. He’ll have a reasonable retirement.

  • avatar

    …And somewhere between the undead section of Uffizi Cafe on Palazzo Vecchio and the ninth circle of hell, Niccolo Machiavelli sets down his cup of hookworm espresso to have a dusty little chuckle.
    “Piech, you little ragazzo impertinente! They are going to Love you down here!”

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Unlike with the Fords, you can say that Porsche is what it became through Piech’s efforts rather than inspite of them.

    I just said this in another thread, but it bears repeating: this kind of distraction from the core running of the company benefits only the competition.

    The kind of infighting and towering egos that weakened Ford (HF1 & 2), GM (there’s so many here) Chrysler (Iaccoca, Lutz, Eaton) are utterly nonexistent at Toyota and only occasionally visible at Hyundai. That VW isn’t on death’s doorstep has more to do with luck (eg, failing in North America actually limited their exposure) than the abilities of one old egomaniac.

  • avatar
    SpeedRacerrrrr

    … only occasionally visible at Hyundai.

    LOL. I’ll agree with you about Toyota but must demur on Hyundai. They’ve gotten a little better since legal and financial troubles forced professional management into place in Korea, but we’re still waiting to see if they can keep top management in place for more than a year at a time.

  • avatar
    SpeedRacerrrrr

    Chrysler (Iaccoca, Lutz, Eaton)

    So what’s the solution? The Chrysler example is a perfect one. Here you have three individuals:
    – Iaccoca, personifying the old-school way of business in the US (expediency rules, “technology” is just a feature like color and body-style, profit taking whenever you can, marketing wins the day)
    – Lutz, personifying the technically savy manager (design/engineering rules, development process is important, don’t build a product until it’s ready, product wins the day)
    – Eaton, personifying the financial guy (financial priorities rule, quarterly results are important, synergy and efficiency defined by quarterly financials tell all, cash in my pocket wins the day)

    It makes sense that when you get these three guys in a room together they are going to hate each other. How do you reconcile that? Who will decide who should go and who should stay? And by what criteria? Should top management have a more balanced point of view? Is balance really what a capitalistic, competitive and entrepreneurial society values most highly in corporate leadership? In Japan the tendency is to have engineering types be in charge. Is that really what Americans want? Or would they stand for that?

    Ultimately it is the Board that should answer these questions. But boards are made up of human beings subject to life’s pressures as are we all.

    I don’t think there are easy answers to any of this.

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