BERLIN -- Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech denied reports that he is seeking to oust CEO Martin Winterkorn, German newspaper Bild reported on Thursday, citing Piech.
Separate German media reports had said earlier that Piech aims to push out Winterkorn ahead of the carmaker's May 5 annual shareholder meeting.
"We talked things through last week and agreed on a cooperation," Bild quoted Piech as saying. "I am not pushing the dismissal of Martin Winterkorn."
German press agency dpa reported that Piech wants Porsche boss Matthias Mueller or Skoda chief Winfried Vahland to replace Winterkorn as soon as possible.
German broadcasting network NDR said Piech, 78, doesn't feel tied by an April 16 decision of senior supervisory board members to back Winterkorn, 67, and is now seeking support within the ruling Porsche and Piech families for his bid to replace the CEO.
The families together command 50.7 percent of VW voting rights. The state of Lower Saxony, with 20 percent of voting rights, and German unions that occupy half of VW's 20 supervisory board seats, could give up their support of Winterkorn if the families were in agreement that he should go, NDR said in a report.
VW labor representatives and Lower Saxony said on Thursday that they support Winterkorn remaining as CEO.
"For us, last week's decision remains valid," Bild quoted works council chief Bernd Osterloh, the influential head of VW's labor unions, as saying. Lower Saxony said last week's decision remained the basis of premier Stephan Weil's actions.
"The decision [to back Winterkorn] of the steering committee last Thursday was taken after thorough discussion," Lower Saxony Prime Minister Stephan Weil said in an emailed statement. "It remains the basis for the course of action."
A spokesman at Piech's office in Salzburg declined to comment.
Piech triggered a leadership crisis by criticizing Winterkorn in a magazine article earlier this month. After an emergency meeting in Salzburg April 16 to resolve the row, a group of six senior board members, including Piech, gave their full backing to Winterkorn and agreed to propose an extension of his contract beyond 2016.
At board meetings over the past five months, Piech had aired criticism of the automaker's performance under his former protege Winterkorn, particularly in the United States, where the VW brand has missed its sales goals, sources said.
VW said on Thursday that it had nothing to add to the steering committee's comments the day after the April 16 meeting that had supported Winterkorn.
Hanover-based NordLB analyst Frank Schwope does not believe Piech would find a majority on the board to force out Winterkorn before a May 5 annual shareholder meeting but said the carmaker could be locked into a protracted power struggle.
"It would be very problematic if this were to become a long drawn-out affair," Schwope said.
Reuters contributed to this report