Family Feud: Ferdinand Piech Looking to Offload Stake in VW's Ownership

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

One of the preeminent figures within the European automotive industry is looking to get out of the family business. The former paterfamilias of Volkswagen AG, Ferdinand Piech, is looking to dump his stake of Porsche Automobil Holding SE and sever his remaining ties to VW. Piech’s shares would remain within the Porsche-Piech family — allowing them to keep control of Volkswagen Group — but Ferdinand would be out of the game as a majority stakeholder.

Piech has been at odds with his relatives after suggesting that Wolfgang Porsche and several other VW supervisory board members had been aware of Volkswagen’s emissions cheating much earlier than they claimed. Sources close to the family, whose members are apparently outraged, have stated that the Porsche-Piech gang sought to replace him at the table of Porsche Holdings ever since.

Currently, Porsche SE owns 52 percent of Volkswagen’s voting stock and Piech controls 15 percent within the holdings company. According to an official statement on Friday, the family is in negotiations to acquire 14.7 percent of that — valued at roughly $1.1 billion. However, the family has the right of first refusal and isn’t obligated to take any specific action. “At present, it is still unforeseeable whether the aforesaid changes in the shareholder structure of Porsche Automobil Holding SE will in fact occur,” the statement said.

The sale would remove Ferdinand from any business decisions from Volkswagen after having spent decades building it into the world’s largest automaker. He had previously stepped down as VW’s chairman in 2015 after confrontations with now defamed ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn. Wolfgang Porsche supported Winterkorn after Piech questioned his authority and the family began pressuring him to step down as chairman.

In an interview at this year’s Geneva International Motor Show Wolfgang admitted that he had no contact with his cousin since being accused of being complicit in the emissions scandal — adding that Piech “destroyed his own lifetime achievement” by turning on the company and his family.

[Image: Volkswagen AG] [Source: Bloomberg]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Mar 19, 2017

    I wonder if he is trying to get out before the company's criminal fine goes from 4 billion to 35 billion dollars and its stock takes a hit. Then he could buy the stock back from the hedge funds and souverän Arab investment funds and end up with more than 15%.

    • RobertRyan RobertRyan on Mar 19, 2017

      @Robert.Walter No cheating fine has been capped. He is not happy with the management,that let this happen.

  • Kenwood Kenwood on Mar 20, 2017

    I'll bet that he builds another company just to compete with VW so that he can dance in its ashes when it's a smoldering pile.

  • Ajla There's a melancholy to me about an EV with external speaker-generated "engine" noise and fake transmissions. It feels like an admission from the manufacturer that you're giving something up and they are trying to give back some facsimile of it. Like giving a cupcake scented candle to someone on a diet. If I was shopping for an EV I'd rather go to a company enthusiastic about it rather than apologetic.
  • EBFlex More proof of how much EVs suck. If you have to do this, that means you are trying to substitute what people want...and that's ICE.
  • Akear The only CEO who can save Boeing, GM, and Ford is Alan Mulally. Mulally is largely credited with saving both Boeing and Ford. The other alternative is to follow a failed Jack Welch business model. We have all witnessed what Jack Welch did to GE, and what happened to Boeing when it was taken over by GE-trained businessmen. Below is an interesting article on how Jack Welch indirectly ruined Boeing.https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-boeing-was-set-on-the-path-to-disaster-by-the-cult-of-jack-welch
  • ChristianWimmer The interior might be well-made, but the design is just hideous in my opinion. It’s to busy and there’s no simplistic harmony visible in it. In fact I feel that the nicest Lexus interior ever could be found in the original LS400 - because it was rather minimalistic, had pleasing lines and didn’t try to hard. It looked just right. All Lexus interiors which came after it just had bizarre styling cues and “tried to hard” if you know what I mean.
  • THX1136 As a couple of folks have mentioned wasn't this an issue with the DeLorean? I seem to recall that it was claimed you could do a 'minor' buff of the surface and it would be good as new. Guess I don't see why it's a big deal if it can be so easily rectified. Won't be any different than getting out and waxing the car every so often - part of ownership, eh.
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