Henning Gebhardt
VW Needs a New Culture: Deutsche Exec

A senior Deutsche Bank executive in asset management said Volkswagen isn't doing enough to address the corporate cultural dysfunction at the heart of the company's emissions scandal.  

One is the top German bank, the other is meant to be the top German car maker. Volkswagen has for years considered Deutsche Bank to be its main bank. It may work with some 50 financial institutions around the world, but its relationship with Deutsche Bank was special. Until now.

In an interview with Handelsblatt, Henning Gebhardt, the global head of equities at Deutsche Bank’s Asset & Wealth Management unit, criticized the Volkswagen board and took the company to task for failing to address the dysfunctional corporate culture at the heart of the emissions scandal.

Mr. Gebhardt is particularly unhappy with VW’s decision to appoint the chief financial officer, Hans Dieter Pötsch, to head the supervisory board. Mr. Pötsch and other management board members waited more than two weeks before informing the supervisory board of the U.S. investigation.

“Moving Hans Dieter Pötsch into the supervisory board isn’t compatible with an environment of good corporate governance,”  Mr. Gebhardt said, warning that a poor corporate culture can cause “deep damage to the brand.”

Mr. Pötsch, a member of VW’s management board since 2003, has been accused of failing to inform investors soon enough about the scandal that has plunged VW into its biggest crisis. The crisis has shaved 40 percent off Volkswagen’s share value.

The management board told U.S. authorities about the manipulation of engines on September 3, but only informed the supervisory board, the senior panel that sets policy and appoints the chief executive and other top officers, on September 18.

At a Wednesday board meeting, Wolfgang Porsche, a member of the Piech-Porsche families that own the majority in VW, backed Mr. Pötsch while other supervisory members representing employees and the state of Lower Saxony, which owns 20 percent of VW, heaped criticism on the finance chief.

Despite their close relationship, Deutsche Bank has long been slightly wary of Volkswagen and holds fewer VW shares in its portfolio than the carmaker’s weighting in the DAX Index of top German stocks would warrant.

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