VW CEO to face investors as first loss in more than 15 years looms


Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller, set to unveil the car maker’s first quarterly loss in more than 15 years, will face his first public grilling from investors as he tries to gain their trust during the diesel-emissions crisis. Europe’s largest automaker will probably post a 3.26 billion euro ($3.60 billion) operating loss for the third quarter Wednesday, compared with a 3.23 billion euro profit a year ago, according to 10 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. After vowing to introduce a new corporate style at Volkswagen, Mueller is breaking with earnings etiquette established by his predecessor, Martin Winterkorn. He’ll personally field questions on an analyst call, a task the former CEO preferred to delegate to his finance chief. Mueller has already met with workers and will brief German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week during a trip to China. The appearances are crucial as Volkswagen braces for costs that analysts have estimated could total from 20 billion euros to as much as 78 billion euros. The company has already said it needs to adjust its forecast, acknowledging that the 6.5 billion euros it set aside in the third quarter won’t cover the full cost of lawsuits, fines and repairs for 11 million affected vehicles. Such a burden could require the company to raise money from investors by selling assets or new shares. "This is an important week for VW to re-establish some of the bridges with the investment community," said Jose Asumendi, a London-based analyst with JPMorgan Chase & Co. Volkswagen has lost some 21 billion euros in market capitalization since the scandal became public on September 18. By Christoph Rauwald (Bloomberg)

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