BERLIN -- Former Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has been tapped to become the head of Germany's auto industry lobby, installing a politician from the state that is home to Volkswagen in the influential post, Bild am Sonntag reported.
Citing unnamed sources, the Sunday tabloid newspaper said Social Democrat Gabriel was the favored candidate of automakers on a shortlist to head the German Association of the Automotive Industry, also known by its initials VDA.
The VDA declined to comment.
Gabriel served as foreign minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel's last government but stood down as Social Democratic Party leader before the 2017 general election. He is no longer active in frontline politics.
Earlier in his career, Gabriel was chief minister of Lower Saxony, the federal state where Volkswagen's vast Wolfsburg headquarters is located and which owns a minority stake in VW.
Gabriel's predecessor as chief minister and later German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, was known as "der Genosse der Bosse" - or the comrade of the bosses - reflecting his business-friendly brand of social democracy.
In September Bernhard Mattes, a former head of Ford's German operations, resigned unexpectedly as VDA president in the middle of the Frankfurt auto show, the showcase event hosted by the group every two years.