Porsche SE announces CEO exit

STUTTGART: The supervisory board of Porsche Automobil Holding SE said Thursday it has voted to accept the resignation of CEO Wendelin Wiedeking with immediate effect.

The statement came after an all-night meeting on the future of the company where the board agreed to seek a capital increase of at least euro5 billion ($7.1 billion), and threw its weight behind talks with a Qatar investment fund, according to a spokesman.

Wiedeking is to be replaced by Michael Macht, the management board member responsible for production, while personnel chief Thomas Edig will serve as his deputy, the board said. Holger Haerter, who was responsible for finances, also resigned, it said.

"Wiedeking and Haerter came to the conclusion in the last week that the further strategic development of Porsche SE and Porsche AG would be better when they were no longer the responsible people on the board," the statement said.

Both Wiedeking and Haerter have agreed to remain available for consultation, the board said.

It gave no further details, and said nothing about possible buy-out packages.

The talks with Qatar have been ongoing, and Bamler said the supervisory board agreed to give the go-ahead for Porsche to sign a deal with a Qatar fund, with which negotiations have been ongoing, spokesman Albrecht Bamler said. He refused further details, and would not say whether the euro5 billion capital increase would come from Qatar, or if it was in addition to what was being sought from the fund.

Rumors have been swirling about a possible takeover by Volkswagen AG, and the board of Volkswagen also planned a separate meeting later Thursday.

At stake is who will control what would be Germany's most powerful automaker - Volkswagen or Porsche.

Wiedeking, 56, joined Porsche in 1983, working in the car maker's production and materials management unit and left the company in 1988 for supplier Glyco Metall-Werke KG where he rose to chief executive in 1990. The next year, he returned to Porsche as production director and became CEO in 1993.

Under his leadership, Porsche built up a 51 percent stake of VW, Europe's biggest automaker, but said in the recent past it wanted to acquire 75 percent, though that it wouldn't be able to do so in the near future because of the state of the economy, car markets and presumably Porsche's debt load.

Porsche is now grappling with some euro9 billion ($12.77 billion) in debt it accumulated while building up its Volkswagen stake.

Volkswagen AG, Europe's biggest car maker by sales, is chaired by Ferdinand Piech, the co-owner of Porsche SE. In a reversal of fortune, it is now proposing a deal that would see it take around a 49 percent of Porsche and fold the lucrative luxury-car business into its portfolio, widening its range as signs point to a renewal in the luxury market.