VW board to meet Wednesday to approve U.S. diesel accord – sources

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<span class="articleLocation”>Volkswagen’s supervisory board will meet on
Wednesday to approve a civil and criminal settlement with the
U.S. Justice Department over the carmaker’s diesel emissions
scandal that will include a penalty of about $4 billion, sources
briefed on the matter said.

The deal, which is expected to include a guilty plea by the
German company or one of its corporate entities for its conduct
in misleading regulators about diesel emissions, comes as the
automaker seeks to move past its “dieselgate” scandal.

Analysts welcomed that a settlement looked set to be reached
before President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20,
saying it would mark a milestone in VW’s efforts to
overcome its biggest-ever corporate scandal.

“There is apprehension in the market that Trump may become
an unpredictable president and turn against non-U.S. companies,”
said Bankhaus Metzler analyst Juergen Pieper. “The deal is not
cheap but it gives clarity to investors and relief to VW.”

As part of a settlement, VW would agree to significant
reforms and face oversight by an independent monitor.

A spokesman at VW’s base in Wolfsburg declined to comment.

The deal with the Justice Department comes as the carmaker
aims to rebuild its long-struggling business in the United
States, where the decline in VW brand sales last year
accelerated to 8 percent.

Europe’s largest automaker is striving to revive its
fortunes in the wake of the dieselgate scandal by developing a
new modular platform for mass producing electric cars and by
embracing automated driving to become a leader in green
transport by 2025.

VW admitted in September 2015 to installing secret software
in hundreds of thousands of U.S. diesel cars to cheat exhaust
emissions tests and make them appear cleaner than they were on
the road, and that as many as 11 million vehicles could have
similar software installed worldwide.

It’s still not clear where criminal investigations into the
responsibility of individual managers will end after a second VW
employee was charged by U.S. prosecutors on Monday with
conspiracy to defraud the United States over VW’s emissions
cheating and the automaker was accused of concealing the
cheating from regulators.

In Germany, state prosecutors are investigating whether
former CEO Martin Winterkorn misled investors by withholding
information about the scale of its problems with U.S.
regulators. Prosecutors are also investigating the roles of
chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch, previously finance chief, and VW
brand head Herbert Diess.

VW has repeatedly said no current or former board members
were involved in the cheating and that it did not release
information sooner because it expected to reach a negotiated
settlement with U.S. regulators.

The company has agreed to spend up to $17.5 billion in the
United States to resolve claims by U.S. regulators, owners and
dealers and offered to buy back nearly 500,000 polluting
vehicles.

Pieper, who has a “buy” recommendation on VW stock, said
with 31 billion euros ($33 billion) of net liquidity at the end
of September, VW was able to cope with the cost of the
dieselgate scandal, which he expects to reach 30 billion euros.

VW would face major financial difficulties if the European
Commission, governments and consumer groups were to succeed in
pushing VW to grant redress to owners of affected diesel cars
similar to that agreed in the United States, said Pieper.

VW said earlier on Tuesday it had record group sales in 2016
of 10.3 million vehicles, including a 12 percent jump in
December. That figure should put VW ahead of Japanese rival
Toyota Motor Co as the world’s largest car producer by
volume for the year.



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