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VW denies Qatar pressure to curb unions

|By Arabian Post Staff| Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller and Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch met with officials of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) in Doha on Sunday amidst newspaper reports suggesting that Qatar has demanded curtailing the role of unions in the automobile company. Qatar is the third largest shareholder of VW.

Volkswagen, however, denied QIA made such a demand, but Reuters reported the meeting discussed the state of investigations into its cheating of emissions tests, as well as VW’s new company structure and future business focus.

Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper, without citing sources, said earlier the QIA would use the meeting to demand a scaling back of the role of VW’s works council.

The council, whose representatives hold as many seats on the company’s 20-member supervisory board as shareholders, has long wielded a great influence at the German company and has headed off cost cuts in the past.

“Co-determination (joint decision-making by corporate and labor representatives) and the (role of the) works council were not on the agenda of the talks,” said a VW spokesman, who earlier described Mueller’s visit to Qatar as communicating with “an important partner.”

The QIA, which holds a 17 percent stake in Europe’s largest automaker, declined to comment, as did VW’s works council.

The emissions scandal has wiped billions off VW’s stock market value and Mueller has said the firm will have to make massive cuts to meet a bill which analysts say could top 40 billion euros ($44 billion) for fines, lawsuits and vehicle refits.

VW’s supervisory board, which includes two members from the QIA, will hold an out-of-sequence meeting on Dec. 9 to discuss the state of investigations as well as luxury division Audi, where 3.0 liter V6 diesel engines were also equipped with illegal emissions-control software.

Mueller, who is due to publish intermediate results from VW’s probe into the scandal on Dec. 10, has been pushing a corporate overhaul at VW since taking office on Sept. 25.

He is aiming to cede more power from VW’s Wolfsburg corporate headquarters to brands and regional divisions, wants to establish a less authoritarian style of management and expand the carmaker’s electric vehicle offerings.

The QIA also wanted to demand a multi-billion campaign to promote electric vehicles in the United States to regain ground in the world’s second-biggest auto market, Reuters said quoting Bild am Sonntag.