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Porsche reportedly set to dump Wiedeking

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Porsche reportedly set to dump Wiedeking
Photo: DPA
18:52 CEST+02:00
Speculation mounted on Friday on whether embattled Porsche executive Wendelin Wiedeking would keep his job amid moves to merge the carmaker with Volkswagen.

Der Spiegel magazine reported that the Porsche and Piech families that control the company would name production chief Michael Macht as new CEO of its core sports car operations.

But a Porsche spokesman told AFP: "Wiedeking is and remains the boss" of the company, while noting that Porsche would hold an extraordinary meeting of its supervisory board next Thursday.

The head of Porsche's works council Uwe Hück also voiced support for the boss, saying in a statement that "Wiedeking is the chief executive and will remain so." Hück said "false information" was the result of an attempt to "destroy a man."

Both Porsche and Volkswagen have called board meetings in Porsche's hometown of Stuttgart, raising speculation that a deal may be near. Wiedeking on Thursday personally denied rumours that he would resign as chief executive, saying he planned to complete his contract which expires in 2012.

He has come under fire after running up Porsche's debt as the company acquired nearly 51 percent of the shares in VW, and stock options for another 20 percent. Wiedeking had sought to buy 75 percent of VW's equity, but the collapse of global auto markets and stricter credit conditions as a result of the financial crisis thwarted his ambitions.

VW had since made a counteroffer for nearly half of the shares in Porsche, saying that a sale would allow it to trim its debt of around €9 billion ($12.6 billion).

Wiedeking is battling meanwhile to take on the Gulf state of Qatar as an investor in Porsche, and the families that control voting rights in the car maker are to study the question next week.

But Christian Wulff, regional premier of Lower Saxony, the German state that owns 20 percent of VW, said he wanted the group to integrate Porsche as its 10th brand. That position "should be supported by a large majority" on Thursday, Wulff told WirtschaftsWoche magazine in comments to appear in its Monday edition. He added that Qatar did not want a direct stake in Porsche but rather to invest in an integrated group.

"Qatar is very well informed and intervened clearly and predictably with a desire to acquire a holding in a Volkswagen/Porsche group," Wulff said. He expressed no opposition to Qatar acquiring an eventual blocking majority in VW similar to one held by Lower Saxony thanks to a special law drawn up for the automaker.

"The VW law is not exclusively for Lower Saxony. Whoever owns 20 percent holds a blocking minority," he said.

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