What the government said in September ‘was outrageous and offensive’: Stefan Jacoby, 34, a criminal lawyer, has replaced his former employers as Volkswagen chairman
Bugatti is the jewel in Volkswagen’s crown. This 33-year-old is taking it over
For the 29 previous years, the managing director of Bugatti, the world’s No1 car brand, has also been the chairman of Volkswagen.
However Stefan Jacoby, a German lawyer, will now take over as the head of Germany’s biggest company, Volkswagen Group, which boasts a successful and lucrative range of brands.
With an impressive resume, Jacoby is a good fit for the role. He started his career in the defence sector, first as an official in the German navy and then as legal adviser in the internal affairs department of the German Bundeswehr, or army.
But like many German youth, he had his eye on the limelight. At 24, he became a stockbroker and then moved into private practice. During his legal career, he has worked in the defense sector and real estate.
In 2009 he was named the managing director of the Volkswagen Group subsidiary, and, this year, took over from Ferdinand Piech, the 75-year-old octogenarian who guided Volkswagen from being a beetle maker to its dominant position.
When asked about Jacoby’s alleged connection to the demise of Audi, the luxury division of VW, Jacoby said he didn’t think the rumours had been fed by “dirty politics”.
Last year Porsche, the sports car maker that is also part of Volkswagen, said Jacoby had deliberately leaked information about the boardroom reshuffle to the press. Jacoby said the accusations were baseless.
At a high profile 60th birthday party at the swanky hotel Palais des Festivals in Paris in 2011, Jacoby wore a pink tie and no tie, suggesting he would make the perfect chairman of VW Group.
But Jacoby’s transition to Volkswagen’s executive ranks happened at a bad time for the company. Apart from the scandal caused by emissions tests cheating by VW and Audi, a raft of high-profile scandals have beset VW in recent years, including accounting scandals, union rivalry and a toxic scandal over diesel cars with carbon emissions that exceed legal limits.
“What’s even more outrageous and offensive is that he does not have enough knowledge about environmental policy to be such a crucial role,” said Helmut Jürgenson, a partner at law firm Clifford Chance, speaking of Jacoby’s elevation to the top VW job.
“VW have to contend with and continue to face numerous threats on the legal, regulatory and legislative fronts, including investigations by various authorities, political hearings and a high-profile class action suit,” Jürgenson said.