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VW patriarch Ferdinand Piëch steps down

The head of Volkswagen's supervisory board and one of the most powerful men in the company, Ferdinand Piëch, has resigned, the company has said. Piëch had been locked in a power struggle with the firm's CEO.

The 78-year-old Piëch decided to immediately give up his mandate as the supervisory board chief as well as his membership of the board. His wife Ursula, also on the board, made the same decision, according to an announcement by Volkswagen on Saturday.

The board members mutually agreed that there is "no longer the trust necessary for a successful cooperation," according to the company leadership.

The move signals an end to the recent power struggle at the very top of the German car manufacturer.

In a surprise move a little over two weeks ago, Piëch publicly stated that he is "distancing" himself from the current CEO, Martin Winterkorn, thus shattering the widespread certainty that his longtime protégé would eventually take over as the head of the supervisory board.

According to German media, Piëch attempted to drum up a majority on the board to remove Winterkorn from his position.

However, the company's top managers supported Winterkorn at the helm of the company last week.

Piëch

has denied attempting a coup

.

Piëch is a grandson of the famous carmaker Ferdinand Porsche, making him a cousin of Wolfgang Porsche, who chairs the Porsche SE holding company. This company holds 51 percent of the 12-brand VW group.

Wolfgang Porsche, however, recently commented on the

power struggle,

saying that Piëch's position is "his personal opinion," which is not aligned with that of "the family."

Piëch's position will be temporarily managed by his deputy on the board, Berthold Huber, until the next head of the supervisory board is elected.

dj/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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