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Volkswagen supervisory board will elect new CEO soon

Volkswagen supervisory board will elect new CEO soon

Diess' influence at Volkswagen would grow even further if the supervisory board supports long-standing plans to combine the carmakers' high number of independently operating brands into four core groups.

Volkswagen, the world's biggest carmaker by volume, has been saddled with the fallout of a global diesel emissions scandal that emerged in 2015 and led to multibillion-dollar lawsuits in several countries, in particular in the US.

Passed over for head of BMW in favor of Harald Kreuger, Diess swung over to Volkswagen to pursue a CEO role.

"Diess is ready to weather conflict, which is important to make things happen in a company like Volkswagen", said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the University of Duisburg-Essen's Center for Automotive Research.

Reuters reported that the proposed change comes as current VW Group CEO Mathias Muller is about to be replaced by Herbert Diess in a move created to speed up reform and restructuring in the vast company.

"Bringing Herbert Diess' CEO nomination forward is the next step in transforming VW into a more modern and effective company", Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said in a note.

Mr Mueller had been running Porsche before being elevated to replace Martin Winterkorn.

Such an overhaul would be part of a wider auto industry trend towards spin-offs as companies aim to become more nimble and efficient to cope with rapid changes such as the rise of electric vehicles and autonomous driving. Bernd Osterloh, the company's powerful labor leader, balked at negotiating with him during tough contract talks in 2016, but Diess prevailed with a landmark deal that paved the way to cutting as many as 30,000 jobs and saving 3.7 billion euros ($4.6 billion). But instead of being squeezed out, he has been pushed upward, and has been made CEO. But a replacement of the CEO could also signal that some of the primary shareholders and board members are perhaps unhappy with the direction of the company.

Without citing its sources, Spiegel said Karlheinz Blessing, who was appointed management board member with responsibility for human resources on January 1, 2016, would be replaced by Gunnar Kilian, secretary general of VW's works council.

Diess currently heads the firm's namesake Volkswagen division, but now takes over a larger parent company that owns brands including Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini. Now, he's poised to take VW's top job.

Volkswagen on Tuesday issued a cryptic statement saying Mueller has "showed his general willingness" to contribute to changes to the CEO job as part of a review of the group's management structure.

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