BERLIN (Reuters) -- Volkswagen's supervisory board was meeting today to discuss finding a new chairman to fill the void left by Ferdinand Piech's shock departure last month, sources told Reuters.
The 20-member board, led by interim chairman Berthold Huber, will meet in Hanover, Germany, ahead of what is likely to become a tense shareholder meeting on Tuesday, three sources familiar with the matter said.
The German Press Agency dpa said the meeting was due to begin at 5 pm local time.
It's unlikely that the board -- evenly split between investor and labor representatives -- will reach a decision on a new chairman, one source said, declining to be more specific. Interim chairman Huber is a former boss of the IG Metall labor union and is not seen as a candidate for the role on a permanent basis.
"The search for a successor to Piech at the top of the supervisory board has the utmost priority for investors," said Ingo Speich, a fund manager at Union Investment which holds 0.6 percent of VW preference shares. "The ideal candidate needs a high degree of automotive expertise and authority and should if possible be from outside the company and be neutral," Speich said.
VW and the works council have declined comment on potential candidates mentioned in the press.
These include long-time automotive manager Wolfgang Reitzle, a former BMW and Ford Motor executive, and Wolfgang Porsche, chairman of Porsche SE, the holding company owned by the Porsche and Piech families which controls a majority stake in VW.
VW last week sought to shift the focus back to its operating business by appointing two nieces of Piech to replace the former VW patriarch and his wife on the board. Piech's wife Ursula had also quit on April 25.
But Piech has challenged VW's choice, which has also been backed by the works council, and instead proposed Reitzle and former Siemens manager Brigitte Ederer, German daily newspaper Bild reported.
Reitzle declined to comment on speculation that he might become VW chairman when asked at Continental's annual shareholder meeting last week. The supplier's CEO, Elmar Degenhart, told reporters: "We won't let Reitzle go," according to dpa. Analysts say it would be difficult for Reitzle to be chairman of both VW and Continental, which is a parts supplier to VW.
The 78-year-old Piech, a dominant figure at VW for more than two decades, quit after losing a power struggle with CEO Martin Winterkorn.
German press reports said VW insiders do not expect Piech to attend Tuesday's annual meeting.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report