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VW CFO explains how to take a $20bn hit

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(iStock)
(iStock)

Frankfurt - Last October, Frank Witter got a late-night e-mail that sounded equally daunting and thrilling.

The mail invited Witter to a 9:00 meeting at Braunschweig airport, a half-hour’s drive from Volkswagen AG’s Wolfsburg headquarters. By the end of the day, Witter - at the time the head of VW’s financial services division - had been named chief financial officer (CFO)of the entire 12-brand group, taking on one of Germany’s toughest jobs.

At the time of his appointment, the company Witter had served for decades was staring into the abyss. VW’s admission that it had rigged millions of diesel engines to cheat on emissions tests had felled its CEO and was hammering the stock price, and speculation was swirling that VW, a cornerstone of Germany’s engineering pride, might unravel altogether.

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