Ferdinand Piech did it again. The 78-year old patriarch upstaged his younger cousin Wolfgang Porsche and former protege Martin Winterkorn by missing the annual meeting of the family holding company that holds a majority stake in Volkswagen Group.
Wolfgang Porsche had to field questions that almost solely dealt with his missing relative at the Porsche SE shareholders meeting on Wednesday after Piech cancelled his attendance at short notice.
"I can only assure you that we will take seriously our responsibility for the Volkswagen Group and its 600,000 workers,” Porsche, 72, told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
When asked by Automotive News Europe whether he expects Piech to sell his 13 percent stake in Porsche SE now that he is no longer a VW board member, Wolfgang Porsche smiled wanly and offered as answer a brief shrug of his shoulders.
Whereas Piech didn’t necessarily have any reason to attend last week’s VW annual general meeting following his decision to resign from his post (before he was removed by majority vote), he had a duty to attend Wednesday’s meeting as the best known grandson of family founder Ferdinand Porsche. Piech also did not attend Tuesday’s meeting of the Porsche SE supervisory board, on which Piech still sits.
One Porsche source said he couldn’t remember the last time failed to attend a board meeting – previously he only excused himself due to health-related reasons.
Winterkorn, whom Piech had tried to oust as VW CEO, attended Wednesday's meeting as CEO of Porsche SE. He dismissed worries that he will have a difficult working relationship with Piech within Porsche SE. "We’ve worked together successfully for over 30 years," Winterkorn said.
Despite the assurances, the threat of a Piech-style revenge continues to cast a shadow over the two companies. Much to their chagrin, the world of VW and Porsche revolved around Piech on Wednesday once more.