Volkswagen: Activist Investors To Step Up

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Volkswagen (VLKAY) has gotten itself into quite the predicament as of late this year, they’re still dealing with the fallout from their diesel emission scandal. This has sent the stock into free fall — cut in half in just six months.

With an estimated bill of 25 billion euros for the scandal and shares dropping, there is a new voice of concern among independent shareholders.

Some would say this is an excellent opportunity for activist investors to step up to the plate and begin vying for more control and reform. It’s already difficult for an outsider investors to uncover any wrong doings on the corporations end and can be even harder when none of them show up to the annual shareholder meeting.

Following the fallout of the emission scandal, VW investors have begun plans to sue the company. The company failed to let shareholders know about their poor oversight on the cheating diesel engines before investing in Volkswagen. This may be the perfect time to start looking for insider reforms to help get the shares back on track.

Breaking onto the supervisory board would be no easy feat as half of the seats are filled with VW’s workers. This has not stopped the changing of power structures; in recent years the former chief financial officer Hans-Dieter Poetsch took the role of chairman for Volkswagen. He is in the position to listen to investors concerns and act on them to whip the company into shape. Already investors are beginning to speak up.

Union Investment is one of the first groups of investors to step up and take action with VW. They own 0.4% of VW shares, and have recently called for CEO Matthias Mueller to step down from his role given his decade long history with the company, which is now a hindrance to the advancement of Volkswagen.

Note that Volkswagen had a 20% stake in the Dan Loeb target Suzuki but the two recently unwound their deal. Still — there’s an opportunity for an activist to push for consolidation. Notably, Volkswagen could find itself the target of Fiat Chrysler. Fiat has been looking to merge with GM, but VW might be a better opportunity. Fiat’s Jeep brand gives VW an entry into the U.S. SUV market and VW would give Fiat a presence in the European small-car market.

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