GERMANY-PORSCHE/Porsche's chief executive Wendelin Wiedeking may have been persuaded to leave in order to ease a merger with Volkswagen, but there are still major hurdles to overcome before the sports car maker finally emerges from the pits.

Wiedeking is paying the price for his disastrous plan to take over the far larger carmaker, which left Porsche with a majority stake in VW but saddled with debts of 10 billion euros ($14 billion). His departure marks a crucial turning point in a bitter power struggle between VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech and his cousin Wolfgang Porsche, chairman of the family firm.

    Wiedeking's exit ultimately paves the way for Piech to
install his own lieutenant to run the sports car maker instead
of Wolfgang Porsche's golden boy Wiedeking, who brought it back
from the brink of bankruptcy in 1992.

    But before that happens, the two companies still need to
agree on a structure which will allow them to make Porsche's
sports car unit VW's 10th brand. A merger between the two
companies rather than VW buying the Porsche sports car brand
from the Porsche family holding company is being touted as the
way forward. But although the various parts are gradually being
assembled, a deal could still be some way off.

    As to be expected in this family feud, mixed messages from
the Porsche and VW camps continue. The precise role of Qatar is
still unclear, some insiders are insisting Porsche can go it
alone with a financial boost from Qatar, while VW executives are
confidently predicting  that Porsche will be absorbed into the
larger company.