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Diess is well placed to lead the next stage of Volkswagen’s transition but transparency and evidence of cultural change remain paramount

Home / Press Centre / Diess is well placed to lead the next stage of Volkswagen’s transition but transparency and evidence of cultural change remain paramount

Dr. Michael Viehs, Associate Director of Responsibility:

New CEO appointment

“We welcome the appointment of Herbert Diess as the new CEO of Volkswagen. He is a highly experienced automotive executive and importantly only joined the company in 2015 from BMW where he was involved in the company’s electrified vehicles strategy.

“In his time at Volkswagen, he has started to tackle the profitability gap at the Volkswagen brand and has navigated the company’s complex corporate governance. In our view, he is well placed to lead the next stage of Volkswagen’s transition.

“However, the chair of the supervisory board will need to explain the timing of the management board changes and should provide an update on ongoing investigations against current and former executives relating to the emissions scandal.”

Corporate culture and supervisory board

“While we welcome the actions the company has taken following the emissions scandal, we will continue to press for more transparency about what caused it, appropriate accountability and a greater focus on corporate culture and governance change to restore investor trust.

“We need to see tangible evidence of a changing culture and governance. Herbert Diess should make this a top priority.

“We also expect Volkswagen to appoint more independent members to its supervisory board who have the necessary experience and skills to support it in the transition of the automotive industry to a low-carbon economy.

“In our view, a demonstrably changed corporate culture and governance, particularly a stronger supervisory board, are critical to Volkswagen’s transition towards becoming a leading provider of sustainable mobility.”

For more information on our long-standing engagement with Volkswagen at all levels, please see media releases: 2017 and 2016 AGM statements as well as the Hermes EOS 2017 Annual Report.

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Michael Viehs Dr Michael Viehs is responsible for intelligent proxy voting in Germany, corporate engagements on environmental, social, and governance issues and for conducting research on sustainability and responsible investing with a focus on consumer goods and retail, mining, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and utilities. Before his appointment at Hermes EOS, Michael was research director at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford and visiting assistant professor at the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Michael is a visiting research associate at the University of Oxford and a research affiliate with the European Centre for Corporate Engagement. He presented his research at several top academic and industry conferences in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, the UK, the US and South Africa. Michael holds a BSc in International Business Economics, an MSc in International Business and a PhD in Finance from Maastricht University.
Read all articles by Michael Viehs

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