VW CEO Mueller's abrupt exit heralds sweeping change at carmaker

Sean Reid
April 11, 2018

Last month, Mueller said that chief executives of big companies deserved high pay because "one always has one foot in jail".

Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft said in an ad-hoc April 10, 2018 that it considers a further development of the management structure of the Group, which would also be associated with personnel changes in the Board of Management and could also include a change in the position of the chairman of the Board of Management.

Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch is now in talks about changing the structure with fellow supervisory board members and members of the management board, Volkswagen said.

With Mueller agreeing to go, the controlling Porsche-Piech clan, the state of Lower Saxony and powerful labor leaders settled on Herbert Diess, chief of the Volkswagen brand, as the successor, the people said.

Muller was named CEO in 2015 after overseeing VW's Porsche brand, and has somehow led the automaker to record sales and profits as it dealt with an emissions scandal.

Europe's largest automotive group is poised to replace group chief executive Matthias Mueller this week with Diess, a cost-cutter hired in 2015 from BMW as it seeks fresh impetus for its recovery from an emissions scandal.

Volkswagen is due to discuss a stock market listing for its trucks and bus division at a supervisory board meeting on Friday, two people close to the carmaker said - another move aimed at creating a more focused business.

As CEO, Mueller led Volkswagen through the aftermath of the scandal, which included billions in fines and penalties and US criminal charges against several executives, to record sales and strong profits.

The company said in its statement on Tuesday that it was considering changes to its complicated management structure.

Although Mueller's contract is not officially scheduled to terminate until 2020, Volkswagen said that the 64-year-old executive had "signaled his principal willingness" to help carry overhaul the company's management.

The auto maker also managed to fend off Toyota Motor to retain its status as the world's largest vehicle maker.

Mueller's likely departure comes two days after Deutsche Bank, another pillar of corporate Germany, dismissed its chief executive, John Cryan, in pursuit of a more rapid turnaround following years of losses. No further information was made available with regards to the precise fate of acting CEO Matthias Mueller. A VW spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. The works council, whose members occupy half the seats on the supervisory board, also declined comment.

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