As Volkswagen AG moves closer to its goal of ousting Toyota Motor Corp. as the world's biggest carmaker, Hans Dieter Poetsch is making sure the German carmaking giant's lofty ambitions don't drain its financial resources.
A merger with Porsche, a 20 percent stake in Suzuki and new factories in the United States, China and India are all big projects that would test the financial strength of any large international company. Volkswagen is doing all those things while promising investors significantly higher profits in 2010 than 2009.
The 59-year-old VW Group chief financial officer has brought financial rigor, capital discipline and a detailed planning process to Volkswagen.
He was heavily involved in structuring a complex deal to bail out Porsche in the summer of 2009. He also managed to raise 4 billion euros (about $5 billion) from the financial markets during the industry's worst crisis in decades to help fund VW's merger with Porsche.
Thanks to Poetsch's diligence, the Porsche deal contains checks and balances to protect VW's balance sheet, said Sanford Bernstein analyst Max Warburton.
Since joining VW in 2003, Poetsch has driven a significant cultural change at Europe's biggest automaker that has brought financial rigor, capital discipline and a detailed planning process, according to Warburton.
'Runs a tight ship'
"While few in the financial community could argue that VW is a model of transparency and good corporate governance, most auto sector followers would agree that Poetsch runs a tight ship and has an excellent grasp on all the critical details of VW's operations," Warburton said in an e-mail response to questions.
Even after VW took a nearly 50 percent stake in Porsche, which cost 3.9 billions euros, VW ended 2009 with 10.6 billion euros of net liquidity in its automotive division.
Poetsch said the healthy liquidity was helped by VW achieving savings of 1 billion euros in 2009 through optimized procurement activities and productivity enhancements. Controlling costs and investment policies are at the heart of the automaker's strategy to become the world's leading automobile company by 2018, Poetsch told VW's annual investor conference on March 11.
Volkswagen defended its outstanding position well in a tough economic environment and performed significantly better than most competitors in 2009, Poetsch added.
Austrian-born Poetsch studied industrial engineering at Darmstadt Technical University in Germany. He started his professional career in 1979 at BMW where he rose to become head of group controlling. Before joining VW in 2003, Poetsch was management board chairman at automotive supplier Duerr AG in Stuttgart.