German foundation sells VW shares over language row | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 22.12.2016
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German foundation sells VW shares over language row

A German foundation has announced it's sold all its shares in domestic carmaker VW in protest of the company's plan to switch its official language to English. It said VW's move was completely unnecessary.

German foundation "Deutsche Sprache" ("German Language") said Thursday it had sold all shares it held in Wolfsburg-based carmaker VW. It said it had decided to do so in protest of a plan by Volkswagen to switch its official language to English to help attract foreign executives.

"Deutsche Sprache," which was founded back in 2001 with a view to helping preserve the German language and defend it against potential attacks from the media and the corporate world, said it did not approve of the carmaker's plan at all.

"The words 'Volkswagen' and 'German language' will no longer fit together," executive spokesman Walter Krämer said in a statement, adding that he was "shocked to see how easy it is for our elites to give up their own language and culture."

Controversial issue

By switching to English, VW aims to improve management recruitment. The company says it wants to make sure it's not losing out on candidates for important positions just because they don't speak German. To a lot of people from the world of business that sounds inherently sensible in a globalized world, also given Volkswagen's huge operations in English-speaking nations such as the US.

But the German foundation disagreed, pointing out there was no need to switch to English as "international executives are quite capable of learning German without any major problems."

Financially, the foundation's share sale was pretty irrelevant for all sides concerned. "Deutsche Sprache" owned just 200 VW shares, which it sold for 137 euros ($143) apiece.

Interestingly enough, the foundation had bought the shares shortly after VW's huge emissions-cheating scandal broke, meaning it was less concerned about the carmakers tainted image at the time.

Krämer said the foundation would now wait until the next big stock market crash and then reinvest the cash from the VW share sale. But he noted next time the money would be pumped into a different company.

hg/jd (dpa, AFP)


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