EThe preparations for the Porsche IPO, which is scheduled to take place in about two weeks, are proceeding in quick succession. After Quatar, the sports car manufacturer has probably also won the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund as an investor. On Sunday evening, the parent company Volkswagen also wants to set the price range in which it wants to put Porsche shares on the market. The share capital was already – how could it be otherwise? – Fixed at 911 million shares. The Stuttgart-based company is thus alluding to their iconic sports car, the sequence of digits of which must already be used for the company’s telephone numbers.
At the same time, Porsche is also preparing in terms of personnel for the time after the IPO. In listed companies, legal requirements apply to the proportion of women on the supervisory board. In future, 30 percent of the inspectors in Stuttgart must also be female, a proportion that the employee side currently fulfills, but not the capital side.
After the departure of Hiltrud Werner in the spring, it is completely occupied by men who belong either to the Porsche and Piëch families or to the management of the previous sole owner, Volkswagen. Now Micaela le Divelec Lemmi, Melissa Di Donato and Hauke Stars are coming. They should bring diversity to the supervisory board and charge the board with expertise in software and luxury goods.
Criticism of management
With Hans-Peter Porsche and Thomas Schmall-von Westerholt, a family member and a group representative have to give way, as the FAZ found out. This will only be officially announced on Monday in the statutory stock exchange prospectus. The vacant position held by Hiltrud Werner will also be filled. With the new appointment, Porsche also intends to comply with the provisions of the Corporate Governance Code, a voluntary commitment by business with rules of good corporate governance.
According to this, two inspectors who are independent of major shareholders should sit on the supervisory board, which is done by Divelec Lemmi and Di Donato. However, the company, which, like the entire VW group, is often criticized for governance problems, only meets the minimum requirements. Stars does not provide any relief in this regard because she is not independent as a board member of VW.
Sought-after tech manager
After all, in Di Donato, Porsche has landed one of the most distinguished tech managers ever. She is the head of the open source software company Suse from Nuremberg, which she took public last year – as one of the first women ever.
The New Yorker brings a lot with her that is useful for Porsche. She knows the software scene and has a connection to the tens of thousands of open source programmers on whose work Suse’s business model is based.
Di Donato has worked in senior roles for SAP, Salesforce, IBM, PwC and Oracle. Especially in the current phase, in which VW and Porsche are working on new architectures for their car software of the future, these are skills that definitely count. With the programming division Cariad of the VW group, there had recently been violent turbulence on the subject.
The native American, who exudes glamor and once described herself as a “nerd in high heels”, is also involved in various initiatives and foundations for the advancement of women and girls. This is also an area in which Porsche has some catching up to do. So far, the company’s seven-member board of directors has only one woman, Head of Procurement Barbara Frenkel.
The Luxury Commissioner
Divelec Lemmi, on the other hand, is an experienced manager in the luxury industry, but she doesn’t just want to pay attention to questions of style at Porsche. The Italian studied economics in Florence and worked for the auditing company EY for several years before joining the Gucci Group in 1998. There she rose to the position of CFO and Executive Vice President. In addition, she managed the Florentine porcelain manufacturer Richard Ginori, which, like Gucci, belongs to the French Kering group.
She then moved to the Italian shoe and fashion manufacturer Salvatore Ferragamo, where her tenure ended abruptly a year ago. Divelec Lemmi had to make way for Marco Gobbetti, coming from Burberry, an industry heavyweight. She even left Ferragamo three months before Gobbetti’s arrival and received an advance payment of 1.9 million euros for the early termination of the contract. Since then, she has been a member of the board of directors of coffee machine manufacturer De’Longhi and Rome Airport, among other things.
The third woman, Hauke Stars, has been on the board of the VW Group since spring. There she takes care of the IT systems, an area in which she is supposed to ensure more efficiency and uniformity in the technical patchwork of the global auto giant. With a view to Porsche, this can develop a certain explosiveness. Because in Stuttgart, after the IPO, it is important to find a balance between independence from the parent company and at the same time maintaining synergies and uniform solutions.
The computer scientist and former manager of Bertelsmann and Deutsche Börse AG is also responsible for other control points for the future structure of VW. On the Cariad supervisory board, she keeps an eye on the car software, and she is also the controller of the group’s battery company Powerco.
Both are companies that are supposed to perform cross-sectional tasks for all group brands, including Porsche. Star’s appointment to Stuttgart points to a further dimension of the reorganization of the supervisory board there. Not only competence and proportional representation play a role, it is also about constantly rebalancing the complicated structure of power and interests.