February 20, 2018 / 6:53 PM / 6 months ago

Audi CEO rejects speculation about his future

BERLIN (Reuters) - Audi (NSUG.DE) Chief Executive Rupert Stadler has rejected suggestions he is about to be ousted and believes he has the support of parent company Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), a German newspaper reported on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Audi CEO Rupert Stadler looks on during the opening of the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

“It is not possible to stop that speculation from coming up again and again,” Stadler was quoted as telling the Handelsblatt daily, adding that he feels “very clearly” that he has the support of the leadership of Volkswagen.

Audi Chairman Matthias Mueller, who is also CEO of parent company Volkswagen, appealed to workers last week to ignore a media report that Stadler was about to be removed.

German tabloid Bild reported that Stadler would leave in April because of his handling of the diesel emissions affair, in which Audi played a prominent role, adding Stadler would however be given a new role as VW group finance chief.

Volkswagen has repeatedly attempted to draw a line under a scandal that broke out in 2015 when it admitted cheating diesel-emission tests in the United States to conceal the amount of noxious gases emitted by some of its vehicles.

Stadler said the diesel scandal would continue to plague the company: “Of course, I am aware that the legal proceedings will continue to occupy us for some time.”

But he added that he and his management team had enough space to focus on the company’s future strategy: “We are doing that with great passion.”

Stadler ran finance at Audi for four years before becoming CEO in 2007. He was a confidant of, and former assistant to, then-VW chairman Ferdinand Piech, the scion of Volkswagen’s controlling clan who was himself ousted in 2015.

His position as CEO has been questioned before but so far Audi’s board has rallied around him.

Reporting by Emma Thomasson, editing by David Evans

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