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Ursula Piech to join husband at VW

Ursula Piech is running for Volkswagen (VW) supervisory board membership, it emerged yesterday (Sun).

The wife of Austrian billionaire Ferdinand Piech is expected to receive unanimous support from shareholders in next month’s general summit. Ferdinand Piech married Ursula, his family’s former maid, in 1984. She has great expertise in the international automotive industry, according to experts and business newspaper reports.

The family of Ferdinand Piech have made the top five of various lists on the richest Austrian families in the past decades on a regular basis. The 75-year-old entrepreneur resigned as CEO of VW to enter the German car maker’s supervisory board in 2002. He has 12 children. He plans to head the panel for another five years. Piech had been married three times before marrying Ursula.

The election of Ursula Piech, 55, seems certain since the Piech-Porsche family’s Porsche Holding owns more than 50 per cent in VW. The families’ assets are tipped to make around 29 billion Euros. Europe’s leading automotive company achieved operating profits of 11.3 billion Euros in 2011, up sharply from 2010 when it had a profit of 7.1 billion Euros. The company, which has more than 400,000 employees in the world, managed to increase its turnover by more than 25 per cent to almost 160 billion Euros from 2010 to the following year.

VW boss Martin Winterkorn recently said he expected the demand for cars in Western Europe to drop slightly in 2012. Winterkorn added he was nevertheless optimistic about remaining market leader in the region. The VW head said his firm hoped for a strong increase of sales in Asia, South America, the United States and Russia this year.

VW is highly popular in Austria. The firm managed to sell more cars than any of its competitors in the past decades. Around 65,000 models manufactured by the VW Group were sold in Austria last year – more than twice as many as its key rival Opel managed to sell at 26,000. Overall, more vehicles than ever before were registered in Austria last year. Over 356,000 cars were sold in the country’s nine provinces, according to statistics. This was a rise of 8.4 per cent compared to 2010, the previous record year for sales.

Automotive industry analysts think that Austrian car dealers might have to accept a decrease in profits this year. Latest statistics seem to confirm their predictions. Statisticians said at the weekend that the number of car registrations dropped by 9.1 per cent from February 2011 to the same month in 2012. They underlined that the number of truck sales slid by even 13.7 per cent at the same time. Some brands managed to buck the trend last month, figures show. BMW managed to sell 35.1 per cent more cars in Austria in February 2012 than in the same month of last year. Hyundai (plus 15.2 per cent) and Audi (plus 1.2 per cent) fared better as well.

Only last Thursday, BMW was identified as one of the main foreign investors of 2011. The Austrian Business Agency (ABA) said that the Munich-based car company boosted the Austrian economy by creating a substantial number of jobs in Salzburg by deciding to set up its main office for operations in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region in the city. ABA added that 183 international companies opened offices and put industrial facilities in operation in Austria last year, 15 fewer than in 2010. The agency stressed that foreign investments jumped by around a third to more than 296 million Euros nevertheless.

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