When Kriss documented the “Game of Thrones”/House of Cards-like power battle between Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch and CEO Martin Winterkorn last week, I posted the reaction that Piëch is a tough businessman and a shrewd Machiavellian whom I suspected of backing off because he couldn’t win the fight, but already had some play in mind to win the battle.
This week it became obvious he did indeed have such a play in mind, but he must have confided in at least one wrong person. After he lost support from the rest of VW’s top decision makers, including his cousin Wolfgang Porsche and the state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), one of the largest non-family shareholders, Piëch publicly claimed that he would back Winterkorn as well. But in the background, he was secretly rallying other family members to support him in an all-out coup to kick Winterkorn out and replace him with Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller.
When this word of this coup spread, VW’s work council and Lower Saxony forced an emergency board meeting, in which they gave Piëch the choice to either resign on his own, or to be forced out after a vote. A casual observer would now think this was the end of it, but Ferdinand Piëch wouldn’t be Ferdinand Piëch if he wouldn’t still be pulling the strings behind the scenes. [Read more…]