Applause is heard for BMW’s change in leadership while VW lies in turmoil

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 21, 2015

The manner that Harald Krueger was appointed as BMW’s CEO has gotten the approval of the Quandt family, which controls a stake of nearly 47% in the company. Meanwhile, rival Volkswagen Group is still reeling from the damage caused by a crisis in its leadership.

Stefan Quandt told the automaker’s shareholders last Wednesday in Munich that the course has been set for the future and that the family is “very happy” of the successful and seamless transition. The Quandt is typically very secretive and this is actually the first time that Stefan Quandt has ever spoken at an annual general meeting.

According to a spokesman for the Quandt clan, this gesture is proof of how much the owning family supports its management. Krueger will surely benefit from this support as he works to keep BMW’s position at the top when it comes to luxury car sales and to sustain the brand’s lead over Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

What is going on with BMW is a sharp contrast to the turmoil being experienced at VW. There is an ongoing conflict between Ferdinand Piech, VW’s former chairman, and his cousin Wolfgang Porsche over support for Martin Winterkorn as the group CEO.

While Volkswagen revamps structures and cuts costs amounting to billions of euros, it has been working to overcome its long-term poor performance in the U.S. and its decreasing profitability at its core VW car brand. Even if Piech was thrown out as VW chairman recently, he still holds a significant influence as a large VW shareholder.

When combined, the stake of the Piech and Porsche families total to 51% through family controlled Porsche Automobil Holding SE. At last Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting of Porsche SE in Stuttgart, Piech wasn’t around, adding to doubts of how united the Porsche and Piech families are.

Wolfgang Porsche responded to rumors that Piech may sell down his stake and told shareholders that it’s likely Piech will want to remain involved. Piech’s absence and this power struggle have caused some worry for Daniel Jenderek, a spokesman for DSW, Germany's association for private investors.

He said that Piech has “cleared his place” at the annual shareholder meeting. The mood at BMW’s shareholders’ meeting was quite the opposite. Outgoing CEO Norbert Reithofer was praised for his nine years of steering the company to achieve a 40% increase in sales volumes, a 44% rise in revenue, and the more than double climb in its pretax profit.

BMW shareholder Hans-Martin Buhlmann applauded how the Quandt family handled the succession process while he referred to VW’s family owners as still having to “learn to behave.”

Topics: bmw, vw

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