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VW emissions crisis highlights serious corporate governance problems, says Moody’s

Volkswagen sign

Moody’s, the credit rating and business analysts, has said the emissions crisis at Volkswagen highlights serious corporate governance problems, while the ongoing management reshuffle is positive, “the high turnover creates risks”.

Yasmina Serghini-Douvin, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s, said: “VW's emissions crisis has brought to light serious corporate governance issues within the company that we view as a credit negative.

“These deficiencies include ineffective internal controls to uncover improper activity and poor risk management by VW’s management and supervisory boards.

"The emission crisis might cause lasting damage to VW’s once-solid reputation with adverse effects on its future earnings and cash flows.”

Serghini-Douvin said that while the management shake-up within the company will likely improve regional coordination across the company.

He said: “These changes should also help address the company’s organisational complexity, which we have viewed as a long-standing credit negative.

"However, a turnover of this magnitude creates risks, and additional changes following the conclusion of an internal investigation may put added stress on the quality and depth of the senior management team.”

VW’s corporate governance structure is dominated by three controlling shareholders: Porsche Automobil Holdings SE (which is wholly-owned by the founding Porsche/Piëch families), the state of Lower Saxony and Qatar Investment Holdings.

Serghini-Douvin said: “These parties play the most active roles in VW’s governance.

“In the past, we have viewed the ownership as a potential source of stability for creditors, allowing the company to take a longer-term view on strategy and operations.

“But their interests may not always be totally aligned with each other or those of the company’s creditors and are therefore a source of potential conflict.”

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