September 6, 2017 / 11:01 AM / 10 months ago

German state CDU backs automotive outsider as next VW CEO

FRANKFURT, Sept 6 (Reuters) - The man forecast to become premier of the German state of Lower Saxony, Volkswagen's second-biggest shareholder, says someone from outside the car industry should succeed chief executive Matthias Mueller when his contract expires in 2020.

A company pedigree has been the hallmark of most VW CEOs but that tradition has been tainted by the emissions scandal that erupted two years ago on the watch of Martin Winterkorn, a hard-core engineer and long-serving VW insider.

Investors are calling for more outside expertise on VW's management and supervisory boards to help clear up the emissions trickery as the carmaker pushes a post-dieselgate strategic shift to electric cars and new mobility services.

That message has been reinforced by recent news that current Lower Saxony Premier Stefan Weil, who is forecast to lose the next regional election in October, allowed Volkswagen to vet a speech he made about the diesel scandal.

"Perhaps it is good after all to pick someone who is completely unstressed by all conceivable automobile scandals but who still has an affinity towards this important industry," Bernd Althusmann said in an interview, without suggesting names.

The 50-year-old Althusmann is the leading candidate for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party in a state election on Oct. 15 it is expected to win - a result which would likely make him state premier and a member of VW's supervisory board.

Lower Saxony owns an 11.8 percent stake in VW and controls 20 percent of the voting rights in the world's largest carmaker. (Reporting by Andreas Cremer and Jan Schwartz; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)

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