Volkswagen’s new CEO plans to shrink management board

Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) incoming CEO Oliver Blume plans to shrink the size of the German carmaker’s management board, two people familiar with the matter said, aiming to sharpen its focus after a turbulent few years under his predecessor.

The sources said the number of board seats could be cut to eight or nine, after they had swelled to 12 under Herbert Diess, although no decisions have been made yet.

“Some dual functions should be reconsidered,” one of the sources said.

Blume will succeed Diess, whose tenure was marked by bouts of infighting at Europe’s biggest carmaker, on Sept. 1.

Both Volkswagen and its Porsche sports car brand, where Blume is currently CEO, declined to comment.

Blume’s appointment reflects efforts by Volkswagen’s controlling shareholder families to keep the group on a shorter leash and to have greater say over strategic matters, people familiar have said.

The Porsche and Piech families, who control holding firm Porsche SE (PSHG_p.DE) – which owns most of Volkswagen’s voting rights – are hoping to return the group to calmer waters after the turmoil of the Diess years, those people said.

The sources on Wednesday said Blume’s core team would include finance chief Arno Antlitz, personnel head Gunnar Kilian, legal chief Manfred Doess and Thomas Schaefer, who heads the important Volume brand group that includes VW, Skoda and Seat.

Markus Duesmann, who leads the Premium brand group of Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley and motorcycle brand Ducati, is also set to stay, though his area of responsibility could change, they said.

The future of China board member Ralf Brandstaetter is unclear, one of them said, as is that of IT chief Hauke Stars.

The posts of purchasing manager Murat Aksel and sales manager Hildegard Wortmann, meanwhile, could be at risk.

“One could ask why the purchasing manager of the VW passenger car brand also has to be on the group board,” the second source said, adding that also applied to Wortmann, who heads the group’s sales department in addition to Audi.

Up for discussion is also the wide range of tasks of technology head Thomas Schmall, who is responsible among other things for the group’s automotive suppliers, the development of a global network of battery plants and technology platforms.

Blume is likely to transfer responsibility for production to someone else, the sources said. It has not been decided who could take that role or whether it would remain at board level.

According to company sources, Volkswagen’s supervisory board is due to hold its next regular meeting at the end of September.