RIP Ferdinand Piëch, Former Volkswagen Group Chairman,1937-2019

The former head of the Volkswagen Group has died suddenly at the age of 82, four years after resigning from the company he led to greatness, according to a statement by his wife, Ursula.

Ferdinand Karl Piëch was born on 17 April 1937, in Vienna. His father, Anton, was a lawyer, and his mother, Louise, was the daughter of Ferdinand Porsche. The third of four children, Ferdinand Piëch had two brothers and a sister.

As a young engineer, he made Porsche a brand in racing through legendary vehicles such as the 917 and the Le Mans victory. Since 1972, he brought Audi up to the next technological level with innovations such as quattro four wheel drive and the TDI turbo diesel engine, shaping Audi into a premium brand.

Heading the Volkswagen Group, Ferdinand Piëch advanced its pedigree by integrating Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti into the Group, while also leading the volume brands to international competitiveness through a consistent platform strategy. He also integrated the trucking businesses of Scania and MAN into the Group, laying the foundation for a globally competitive commercial vehicle supplier.

Technologically, he and his development teams have repeatedly gone beyond the limits of the feasible – from the first one-litre car in the world to the Bugatti Veyron with 1001 horsepower.

His biggest triumph was the acquisition of the Porsche brand in 2012. The takeover came with a personal twist – Piëch was able to turn the tables on his cousin, Wolfgang Porsche, who had pushed the sports-car producer to bid for VW four years earlier. Piëch sided with the state of Lower Saxony, which owns a blocking stake in VW, to rebuff Porsche’s offer just as the suitor’s debt was surging from the takeover effort.

Bob Lutz, former Vice-Chairman of GM and veteran of Chrysler, Ford and BMW, summed up Piëch in this way:

“While his stubborn sense of infallibility led to one or two colossal blunders, such as the beautiful but failed VW Phaeton, a $100,000 luxury car that was doomed by its VW badge, Piëch’s strong direction and insistence on excellence made the VW Group, including Audi, SEAT, Škoda, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bentley and others, into a global automotive powerhouse.”

Charlie Shaver Resigns As Chairman Of Axalta

Axalta Coating Systems announced that Charlie Shaver has resigned as Chairman of its Board of Directors, effective 30 June 2019, to focus on other professional commitments. The Board of Directors has appointed current Independent Presiding Director Mark Garrett as its new Chairman. Garrett also serves as Chairman of Axalta’s Strategic Review Committee.

Axalta is looking into a potential sale, after it announced last week that it would conduct a “comprehensive review of strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value”. Garrett is leading that review as head of the Strategic Review Committee.

“I am honoured to have served as Axalta’s Chairman over the past six years and proud of all the company has accomplished,” said Shaver. “Axalta’s tremendous progress in recent years has enabled the company to review a range of strategic alternatives from a position of strength, which I strongly believe is the best course of action for Axalta and its shareholders, customers and employees. With the review underway, now is the right time to make this important transition at the board level. I look forward to watching the next great chapter in Axalta’s journey under the exemplary leadership of Mark Garrett and Robert Bryant.”

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Charlie for the many contributions he has made to Axalta over the past six years, both in the boardroom and as CEO,” said Garrett. “Charlie has played an instrumental role in positioning Axalta for the future by solidifying its market leadership and building a strong foundation for growth. I am honoured by the opportunity to build on Axalta’s rich history and oversee a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives to maximise value for shareholders.”

“I have enjoyed working with Charlie and wish him all the best in the future,” said Robert W. Bryant, Axalta’s Chief Executive Officer. “I look forward to working closely with Mark and the rest of the Board through the strategic review process and beyond to maximise value for Axalta shareholders.”

Suncorp Chairman Switkowski Set To Retire

Christine McLoughlin is to replace Suncorp chairman Ziggy Switkowski who is retiring from the board of the company in September.

Ms McLoughlin is currently the chairman of Suncorp’s remuneration committee, and was the inaugural chairman of the Australian Payments Council, and is also a director of health insurer nib.

On the appointm,ent of his successor, Dr Switkowski said: “In her three years on the board, Christine has demonstrated a broad range of skills relevant to financial services. I am confident that Christine will work well with the board, the CEO and managing director Michael Cameron, and senior management team to take this company to the next level of performance.”

McLoughlin said she was looking to embrace new opportunities and challenges.

“I look forward to working with my fellow directors and the Suncorp management team to continue to shape the Suncorp of tomorrow for our shareholders, customers and communities,” she said.

Allianz’s Graham Gibson Appointed As Chairman Of Thatcham Research

Thatcham Research, the independent voice of automotive safety and repair, has appointed Allianz’s Graham Gibson as the new Chairman of its Board.

As chief claims officer at Allianz Insurance Gibson is an industry advocate with extensive experience in a range of market initiatives across claims and personal injury. He also serves on a variety of insurer related groups, including Board Member for the Insurance Fraud Bureau.

“I am excited to have been given this opportunity to work closely with Thatcham Research. Their passion and commitment to improving automotive safety and security demonstrates a dedication to both the insurance industry and vehicle manufacturers”. Said Gibson.

“I have seen first-hand the hard work and innovative research carried out by Thatcham Research having been an active member of its board since 2012. I look forward to working with members of the team and producing some exciting research.”

Gibson replaces current Chairman Ian Currie, who is retiring from his role as UK Motor and Injury Claims Director at RSA, after two-and-a-half years at the helm.

The Thatcham Research Board is drawn from its 24-member insurers, who fund the essential research on vehicle safety, security, personal injury and accident damage repair. As well as crash and track research, Thatcham Research tests and accredits crash repair parts, vehicle repair technicians, and a number of other products and services within the collision repair industry for insurers, motor manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

A founder member of the international Research Council for Automobile Repairs (RCAR), Thatcham Research has also been a member of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) since 2004.