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Volkswagen's family ownership not behind share price trough - Wolfgang Porsche

FILE PHOTO: Wolfgang Porsche, chairman of Porsche SE, attends the Volkswagen Group's annual general meeting in Berlin

By Jan Schwartz

MUNICH (Reuters) - Volkswagen's languishing share price, which is near a three-and-a-half year low, is not the result of ownership control by the Porsche and Piech families, one of its most powerful members said on Monday.

Wolfgang Porsche, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche who founded the sportscar manufacturer that still bears his name, called on Europe's top carmaker to cut more costs and become more efficient.

Volkswagen's low valuation, which some investors trace back to Volkswagen's ownership structure related corporate governance issues, has been a long-standing problem that even the landmark listing of its Porsche AG division last year has failed to solve.

"The major shareholders are certainly not the reason for the poor valuation of the share," Wolfgang Porsche, who leads the supervisory boards of both Porsche SE and Porsche AG, told Reuters on the sidelines of the IAA car show in Munich.

The Porsche and Piech families essentially control Volkswagen via their holding firm Porsche SE, which holds most of the voting rights in the Wolfsburg-based carmaker.

"We have to get an even better grip on performance and costs," Porsche, 80, said, adding Volkswagen had to become more competitive. "Everything has to be considered."

With a view to its competitors, the group could not assume that it would be able to avoid cutting costs, Porsche, who also sits on Volkswagen's supervisory board, said.

Porsche also brushed aside investor criticism about the dual role of Oliver Blume, who, as chief executive of both Volkswagen and Porsche AG, serves as the leader of two blue-chip companies, which has stoked concerns among corporate governance specialists.

"Oliver Blume hasn't been there that long, and he runs two DAX companies. And he does it very well."

Regarding the families' closely-watched succession planning, Porsche said that his nephew, Ferdinand Oliver Porsche, who also sits on the supervisory boards of Volkswagen, Porsche SE and Porsche AG, was a natural future successor were he to step down.

"He has been in all the relevant committees for many years," Porsche said of him, adding he was experienced enough. "I certainly won't do this forever."

(Reporting by Jan Schwartz; Writing by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Mike Harrison)