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VW boss set to leave - paper

2007-01-02 11:55

Frankfurt - Volkswagen brand group chief Wolfgang Bernhard is poised to leave Europe's largest car maker over a planned management shake-up, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The paper quoted people familiar with the matter as saying Volkswagen's supervisory board would meet next month to approve a reorganisation of the company's management board, which oversees its daily operations.

As part of the planned reorganisation, the paper said the board had offered Bernhard a new company-wide post overseeing production which he had spurned because it violated his contract, which runs until 2010.

"It's fairly clear he won't stay," the paper quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying. "He's said 'if my job changed, I've got to leave."

VW could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Journal reported a VW spokeswoman as saying Bernhard was not available for comment, and that the company declined to comment on speculation about a possible new management structure.

The former Chrysler executive was brought to VW by dismissed group CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder to lead the brand restructuring.

There has been recent speculation over his possible departure following a boardroom coup led by VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech.

Investors and analysts have been concerned that were Bernhard to depart, VW would lose its most credible guarantee that significant job and cost cuts will continue, after union-favourite Martin Winterkorn of Audi was appointed to run Volkswagen starting in January.

Early this month, VW said Bernhard would not be pressured into leaving the firm by speculation that he may fall victim to a management shakeup.

Shares in VW closed down 0.3 percent at 85.89 euros on Friday, compared with a 0.2 percent dip in the German blue-chip DAX index.

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