Volkswagen's Annual Shareholders Meeting Was a Real Cage Match
Let’s hope the cutlery was plastic and the sandwiches didn’t come with toothpicks.
Amid an investigation into the emissions scandal that recently ensnared the company’s ex-CEO and current brand chief, Volkswagen shareholders big and small gathered today to calmly discuss the company’s actions and finances.
By all accounts, the calm didn’t last.
According to Reuters, the meeting in Hanover, Germany started out with a corporate apology from chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch, who’d have less worries if his company got a nickel every time it apologized. With that out of the way, the 3,000 shareholders launched into business.
That business included two motions aimed at getting Pötsch out of the room. As a top executive, many shareholders blamed him for being part of the problem that caused the scandal in the first place. Unfortunately for the smaller shareholders, the big players circled the wagons around Volkswagen’s upper management.
The motions didn’t pass.
Ulrich Hocker, chief manager of Germany’s DSW private investor’s group, launched into the company’s top brass, calling their operation “a shambles” and blaming their “collective failure” to prevent the scandal.
“The stock has plunged 50 percent, market share keeps shrinking and diesel engines which long have been portrayed as the savior are just a big bluff,” said Hocker.
Investment firm Deka’s Alexander Scholl questioned whether the company’s big plan for electric vehicles was legit.
“It sounds appealing to aim to become the leader on electric mobility but the actual plans behind this are shallow,” Scholl said.
The meeting isn’t over, so there’s still a chance that fistfights will break out, much like in Eastern European parliaments. It didn’t help that German authorities are investigating the knowledge of former CEO Martin Winterkorn and brand chief Herbert Diess — a probe that started just days ago.
Earlier this year, the automaker’s supervisory board recommended that shareholders sign off on management’s actions during the previous year — an act required by German law. With Diess and Winterkorn now under scrutiny by the authorities, they might not get their wish.
[Image: foamcow/ Flickr]
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