Volkswagen’s labor boss aims to foster, not sell, non-core assets

Osterloh head of Volkwagen's works council addresses news conference at company's headquarters in Wolfburg
FILE PHOTO: Bernd Osterloh, head of Volkwagen’s works council, addresses a news conference at the company’s headquarters in Wolfburg, Germany October 6, 2015. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

June 8, 2018

By Andreas Cremer and Jan Schwartz

WOLFSBURG, Germany (Reuters) – Volkswagen’s <VOWG_p.DE> powerful works council will continue to block potential sales of the carmaker’s non-core industrial assets and instead seek steps with the new chief executive to advance the units, its top labor leader said in an interview.

Under former chief executive Matthias Mueller, attempts to slim down Europe’s largest automotive group – which also includes the MAN <MANG.DE> Diesel & Turbo engineering business and transmissions maker Renk – foundered amid resistance from labor leaders and the controlling Porsche and Piech families.

But Volkswagen’s (VW) new CEO Herbert Diess last month said that spinning off Diesel & Turbo, Renk or motorcycle brand Ducati is a possibility as the group’s top management reviews options for non-core holdings.

“When taking over MAN, (former chairman) Ferdinand Piech and I promised the workforce of Renk and Diesel & Turbo that we will not sell these divisions. The executive board (of VW) also gave its word,” VW works council chief Bernd Osterloh told Reuters.

Diess has pledged to speed up VW’s post-Dieselgate strategic shift, including preparing the trucks division for a separate listing, as the group aims to become more efficient to better shoulder the costly transformation to electric and self-driving cars.

“We will discuss how we can further develop the engineering operations by means of intelligent solutions,” Osterloh said. “The business must not stand still. We also agree with Dr. Diess on this.”

(Editing by Ludwig Burger)

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