BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen
The plans were announced after Volkswagen board of directors ousted Matthias Mueller as CEO and discussed ways to overhaul the company, which spans motorbikes, buses, trucks and passenger car brands including Ducati, Bentley, Porsche, Audi, Scania and Skoda.
Mueller's replacement with VW brand chief Diess follows slow progress in reorganising the group's car brands, a key pillar of "Strategy 2025" to transform the Germany's biggest car company into a leader in cleaner cars and to move on from its diesel emissions scandal of 2015.
Under the plans, announced on Thursday, Volkswagen will divide itself into six new business areas, plus a portfolio for China, as part of an effort to decentralise responsibility and improve efficiency.
The carmaker will prepare its truck and bus division for "capital market readiness" by making it a public limited company as a prelude to a potential listing, confirming a Reuters report from last month.
"Diess is a man of action, he is the most plausible choice at VW to lead the group into the next phase of its transformation," said Nord LB analyst Frank Schwope, who has a "buy" rating on Volkswagen.
Separately, VW said works council executive Gunnar Kilian, a close aide to labour boss Bernd Osterloh, will replace group human resources chief Karlheinz Blessing who will stay at VW as an adviser. Earlier this week, sources told Reuters that Kilian would replace Blessing.
VW will tighten leadership duties within the group and empower the heads of the three vehicle categories to take on company-wide responsibilities.
With VW's core namesake brand shouldering the bulk of development spending within the group, Diess will also become responsible for R&D activities across the group. Rupert Stadler, CEO of luxury division Audi
Diess, Stadler and Blume will also take charge of the new groups Volume, Premium and Super Premium respectively, VW said, without giving more details.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs say there is 160 billion euros worth of "hidden value" in the European autos sector that could be unlocked through portfolio simplifications.
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