Volkswagen Hires New Strategy Head as Diesel Scandal Lingers

  • Sedran to take over post Nov. 1 and report to CEO Mueller
  • Restructuring expert Sedran was interim CEO at GM's Opel unit

Volkswagen AG hired restructuring expert Thomas Sedran as new head of group strategy, adding another external executive to top management to help the German automaker recover from the diesel-emissions scandal.

Sedran, a former executive at General Motors Co.’s European division Opel, will join VW on Nov. 1 and report to Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller, the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer said in a statement.

The appointment is Volkswagen’s second in a month of someone bringing in expertise from a competing carmaker as Mueller overhauls a highly centralized management structure following revelations that a line of diesel engines was equipped with software designed to fool official emissions testers. The company recruited Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, the legal-affairs and compliance chief at Daimler AG, to take an identical job in an unusual deal that involved negotiations between the manufacturers’ chairmen.

Volkswagen is reorganizing as Mueller readies a recall of as many as 11 million vehicles worldwide while proceeding with a strategy to give brand and regional managers more decision-making power. Departures have included Mueller’s immediate predecessor as CEO, Martin Winterkorn; sales chief Christian Klingler; and Winfried Vahland, the head of the Skoda brand who decided against taking a new post overseeing Volkswagen’s North American business, in addition to a half-dozen suspensions of engineers in connection with a probe into the software rigging.

Sedran, 51, previously worked as a consultant at Roland Berger and restructuring specialist AlixPartners before being appointed in 2012 to run Opel strategy in 2012. He served as interim CEO of the Ruesselsheim, Germany-based division after the abrupt departure of Karl-Friedrich Stracke and oversaw European operations of GM’s Chevrolet and Cadillac brands starting in mid-2013. He holds an MBA from the University of Hohenheim and a doctorate from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

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