Norwegian Oil Fund Attacks VW Corporate Governance

Norway’s $850bn oil fund does not like commenting about individual companies it owns shares in. It usually goes out of its way to avoid saying anything about any of its more than 9,000 investments. But Volkswagen is starting to become the exception that proves the rule. The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund has become increasingly open in its distaste for the German carmaker, culminating in it confirming to the Financial Times that it would take legal action against VW over its emissions scandal. The decision to sue VW as part of a class-action lawsuit in the German courts is merely the latest sign of the oil fund’s growing willingness to criticise the carmaker. The first public statement came in 2009, in what is still one of only a handful of letters the fund has written to a company to be released publicly. It criticised as “unacceptable” the dealings of VW with the Porsche and Piëch families in a complex series of deals that cemented their position as the leading shareholders at both VW and sports car maker Porsche. Both families are descended from Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of the eponymous carmaker and the designer of the VW Beetle, and together they now control more than half of VW’s voting rights and all those in Porsche.

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