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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
VW chooses new chief
Former BMW chief Bernd Pischetsrieder
Mr Pischetsrieder's appointment was long rumoured
In a keenly-awaited decision, Volkswagen, Europe's biggest car maker, has chosen Bernd Pischetsrieder as its next chief executive.

Mr Pischetsrieder will take over from Ferdinand Piech, the long-serving and near-legendary current boss, in mid-April next year.

His appointment had been rumoured for months, and Mr Pischetsrieder had started to play an increasingly active role at VW, where he is a member of the board.

All the same, it might provoke a little controversy, since Mr Pischetsrieder, as the former head of rival car maker BMW, presided over a bungled investment in British manufacturer Rover.

End to uncertainty

The appointment brings to an end a period of uncertainty for VW.

Although Mr Pischetsrieder was always the front-runner, there were persistent rumours that a mystery candidate might be parachuted in at the last minute.

The change of management could spark a series of reforms at the company.

A VW Beetle
VW operates a bewildering brand portfolio
Under Mr Piech, VW has transformed itself from a middling manufacturer into arguably the most successful car maker in the world.

At a time when the industry as a whole is suffering from over-capacity and the global economic slowdown, VW has seen its profits surge.

But Mr Pischetsrieder will be keen to make his mark, and is believed to be likely to shake up VW's diverse - and at times confusing - portfolio of brands.

VW also owns Spanish Seat and Czech Skoda cars, as well as niche marques such as Rolls Royce, Bentley and Lamborghini.

See also:

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Strike hits Mexican Volkswagen plant
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VW profits accelerate
30 May 01 | Business
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Happy motoring for VW
20 Feb 01 | Business
VW reports record profits
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