BERLIN (Reuters) -- The prime minister of the German state of Lower Saxony, which owns 20 percent of Volkswagen, was quoted as saying that a power struggle at the automaker is over.
VW patriarch Ferdinand Piech, a dominant figure at VW for more than two decades, was forced out as chairman a week ago after losing a showdown with CEO Martin Winterkorn, who had the firm support of labor representatives, Lower Saxony and Piech's own cousin, Wolfgang Porsche.
Asked in an interview with German newspaper Bild if the power struggle at Volkswagen was now over, Stephan Weil replied: "Yes."
Weil said decisions regarding the replacement of Piech and his wife, Ursula, on VW's 20-seat supervisory board, had been taken.
Piech, who still owns 13 percent of Porsche SE, the holding company that controls a majority stake in VW, opposes the appointment of two of his nieces, Louise Kiesling and Julia Kuhn-Piech, to the board, reportedly because he believes they are too inexperienced.
According to Bild, Piech, 78, nominated longtime automotive manager Wolfgang Reitzle -- seen as a potential replacement chairman -- and former Siemens manager Brigitte Ederer instead.
But on Friday, VW's labor council, which controls half the seats on the supervisory board, gave its backing to Piech's nieces, effectively finalizing their appointments.
The only way that remains for Piech to thwart the moves would be to bring legal action.
Weil said the speedy appointments should end the turmoil at Europe's largest carmaker.
"A company of the size of VW has to concentrate on business. And I think the conditions for that are now right," he said, adding he hoped the board would be able to eventually repair the relationship with Piech.
Asked whether he thought Winterkorn should take over as chairman, Weil said: "Martin Winterkorn is an excellent CEO. We will decide in due course about the role of chairman."