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Volkswagen names new CEO in sudden shift

13 April 2018

Volkswagen Group has announced Herbert Diess will take the top job at the German auto giant as Matthias Mueller steps down after leading the company through the aftermath of the emissions scandal.

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 vehicle brands including Ducati, Bentley, Porsche, Audi, Scania and Skoda.

Mueller, 64, took over suddenly in 2015 when predecessor Martin Winterkorn fell victim to the company's scandal over cars rigged to cheat on diesel emissions tests.

The appointment of Diess, formerly the company's brand manager, was cheered by analysts. He has led the company through the scandal to record sales and strong profits.

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Board Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said Muller had done "outstanding work" at a time when the company "faced the greatest challenge in its history".

Volkswagen will carve out a trucks and buses division that includes MAN and Scania heavy-truck brands, the source said, adding that Volkswagen's MAN Turbo and Renk units would be put into a further division. The company did not detail the fifth and sixth business divisions ahead of a news conference scheduled for 10:30 a.m. (0930 GMT) Friday.

Diess was the subject of speculation as a possible successor to Winterkorn when he arrived at Volkswagen from BMW less than three months before Winterkorn's sudden departure left the company looking for a new CEO.

Shares in Volkswagen spiked earlier this week after the company said it was considering management changes.

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With a dripfeed of Dieselgate issues continuing to emerge from the embattled company Müller has cut a lonely figure, and a fresh start with a CEO who hasn't spent his whole career at the carmaker could be what's needed.

Separately, VW said works council executive Gunnar Kilian, a close aide to labor boss Bernd Osterloh, will replace group human resources chief Karlheinz Blessing who will stay at VW as an adviser.

Mr Mueller - a veteran of the German vehicle company - was promoted from his role heading the Porsche division to take the job heading the entire group. Other big shareholders are the German state of Lower Saxony, where Volkswagen is headquartered, with 20 percent of the voting rights, and Qatar Holding with 17 percent.

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Volkswagen names new CEO in sudden shift