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Sun 6 Dec 2015 03:27 PM

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Volkswagen dismisses claim Qatar sought to scale back influence of trade unions

Third-largest shareholder had talks with German carmaker after emissions scandal

Volkswagen dismisses claim Qatar sought to scale back influence of trade unions
(Getty Images)

Volkswagen has denied a report saying its chief executive and
chairman were urged on Sunday by its third-largest shareholder to reduce the
influence of VW's powerful unions as it battles to overcome its emissions
scandal.

CEO Matthias
Mueller and chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch met with leaders of the Qatar
Investment Authority (QIA) in Doha on Sunday to discuss the state of
investigations into its cheating of emissions tests, as well as VW's new
company structure and future business focus, two people familiar with the
matter said.

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 labour 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 December 9 to discuss the state of investigations as
well as luxury division Audi, where 3.0 litre 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 December
10, has been pushing a corporate overhaul at VW since taking office on September
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, Bild
am Sonntag
said.

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