Hermes EOS warns on VW board

VW and Daimler are due their respective annual general meetings amid the continuing issues surrounding the emissions scandal, public distrust in diesel power and attempts to switch rapidly to electric vehicles as the public and governments look to zero-emission options.

VW is making much of its AGM having a neutral carbon footprint, with CO2 emissions generated as a result of travel to and from the venue and accommodation for the shareholders, employees and service providers, together with setup and dismantling for the event will be offset by purchasing carbon credits.

More ambitiously the company has proposed a programme that will make the fleet, production and administration completely neutral carbon by 2050. Its new ID.31, which will make its market debut in 2020, is claimed to be the first electric vehicle to be delivered to customers as a carbon-neutral product. More than 15,000 registrations have already been received for the vehicle in its first week of pre-booking.

However, such pledges are not cutting much ice with Hermes EOS, and at VW will recommend voting against the candidates proposed for election to the supervisory board. Conversely, at Daimler, Hermes EOS recommends voting in favour of the new divisional structure of the group and supports the appointment of Ola Källenius as new CEO

Dr Hans-Christoph Hirt, head of Hermes EOS explained: “Despite our positive view of the company’s [VW’s] strategic decision to become a leader in electric vehicles and its commitment to climate protection, we still have significant concerns about Volkswagen’s governance structure, particularly the composition of its supervisory board. It has been almost four years since the emissions scandal broke and we urgently need to see tangible and credible evidence of improving governance and culture. We urge the company to conduct and report on an externally-facilitated supervisory board evaluation to identify experience and skills gaps and confirm the need for more independent expertise. This is of particular importance given the reported ongoing legal investigations into the company’s former CEO Martin Winterkorn’s role in the emissions scandal.”

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