Volkswagen investors revive governance grumbles even with despite special dividend

BERLIN – Volkswagen shareholders criticized CEO Oliver Blume’s dual role on Friday despite rubber-stamping a special dividend of around €9.6 billion ($10.2 billion) after Porsche AG’s public offering. I made it new.

Blum, who was named group chief executive in September, remains CEO of luxury brand Porsche even after going public, and some investors say the pressure on his time and profits has been muted. It raises concerns about possible conflicts.

At the shareholder meeting to approve the special dividend, Blum said Volkswagen is doing well in difficult times and spent the first 100 days restructuring senior positions, defining strategy in China and North America, software and platforms. He said he spent his time on tasks such as revising the strategy of .

Shareholders voted in favor of a special dividend on Friday with 99.9% of the vote.

However, some investors, including DWS and the investor association SdK, used the opportunity to speak before the vote to criticize Bloom’s dual role as chief of both companies, with DWS saying governance issues He said he was downgrading Volkswagen.

“We don’t want a part-time CEO, it’s neither a parent company nor a subsidiary,” said Hendrik Schmidt of DWS, which owns a 2% stake in Volkswagen, according to Eikon data.

SdK President Mark Liebscher said:

Porsche’s shares have risen 18.5% to $103.60 per share since opening at $87.44 on September 29, while Volkswagen’s shares have risen just 3.9% over the same period. It came to $141.56.

Speaking to shareholders on Friday, Bloom defended his position. “I will keep both roles long-term,” he said.

Volkswagen finance chief Arno Antlitz believes Volkswagen has “great potential” to raise its valuation, and the market will soon move forward with electrification and digital plans. He said he would recognize that

Bloom said Volkswagen is diversifying its global presence given geopolitical tensions and said a decision on a planned battery plant in Eastern Europe, which was postponed last week, would soon be made. .

Europe’s record energy prices and high subsidies offered in the United States are fueling fears among European policymakers that planned investments in Europe will instead be made abroad. increase.

Volkswagen is considering locations based not only on the number of plants promised per region (a total of six Gigafactories in Europe, according to the latest plans), but also on demand from the electric vehicle buildup in each region. I was. Said.

Still, Bloom said a location in Eastern Europe would be announced soon, and the automaker was also looking for a battery factory in Canada.

“We are committed to a globally balanced presence with a strong third leg in Europe, China and North America,” said Blume.

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