July 24, 2018 / 2:14 PM / in 4 months

Volkswagen poaches BMW engine development expert Duesmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen has recruited BMW engine development and purchasing expert Markus Duesmann, it said on Tuesday, bolstering its management board with a potential candidate for the CEO vacancy at its Audi premium brand.

Markus Duesmann, board member of German luxury carmaker BMW attends the company's annual news conference in Munich, Germany, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/Files

Wolfsburg-based VW is on the lookout for clean-engine expertise as it struggles to overcome an emissions scandal that originated in Audi’s engine development department.

Audi’s current CEO and VW board member Rupert Stadler was forced to step down temporarily after his arrest in June as part of an ongoing emissions investigation. VW is now seeking to replenish its senior leadership while Stadler remains in custody.

Duesmann will take up his new position as soon as he is able to do so, Volkswagen said in a statement, and will be the second high-profile defection from rival German carmaker BMW after the poaching of Herbert Diess in July 2015.

Diess was initially installed as head of the VW brand before being promoted to group CEO this year.

Duesmann worked for Diess as head of engine development when they were at BMW, but it remains unclear exactly when they will be reunited at VW. Duesmann’s BMW contract runs until Sept. 30, 2019, and it would also have a non-compete clause that BMW board members are required to sign.

BMW said that Duesmann had informed its chairman that he would not make himself available for an extension of his contract because of personal reasons.

“As a consequence, the chairman of the supervisory board and Mr. Duesmann agreed that Mr. Duesmann will be relieved of his contractual responsibilities as management board member for purchasing and supplier network with immediate effect,” BMW said.

German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that Volkswagen wanted Duesmann to fill the post of Audi chief executive after the arrest of Stadler.

Stadler stepped down at Audi after he was taken into custody on suspicion of interfering with an emissions investigation. VW and Audi have said that Stadler is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise.

Reporting by Edward Taylor, Irene Preisinger, Ilona Wissenbach and Caroline Copley; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Goodman

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