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General Motors has named a new chief executive for its lossmaking European Opel/ Vauxhall business in the latest shake-up of executive management at the US carmaker.
Nick Reilly will step aside as CEO on April 1 to be replaced by Karl-Friedrich Stracke, a German engineer who has worked for GM since1979, most recently as its head of global vehicle engineering.
Mr Reilly, who has run Opel since late 2009, will still keep strategic oversight of the German-headquartered unit, which GM is trying to return to profit, and chair the supervisory board.
Mr Reilly said that the move would “give me more time to look at the long-term strategic positioning of GM’s operations in Europe”. While Opel accounts for the bulk of GM’s business in Europe, his new remit will also include responsibility for its Chevrolet and Cadillac brands.
Naming a German to head Opel could help GM to soothe lingering acrimony in Germany over its botched attempt to spin off its European business in 2009.
GM styled the reshuffle as a “strengthening” of its European management team, but the change is likely to raise additional questions about a company that has seen a heavy rotation of executives since Dan Akerson took over as chief executive last year.
Chris Liddell, GM’s chief financial officer, resigned earlier this month, to be succeeded by Dan Ammann. Mr Akerson has also appointed new global marketing and product development chiefs and a new head of GM’s OnStar accident and navigation service.
GM says that Opel will break even or make a small profit before special items this year. The unit is regaining market share in Europe, where its sales are up 7 per cent in the year to date, but Opel is still seen as one of the continent’s weakest producers.
“We are in the midst of a substantial turnaround of the Opel/Vauxhall business [and] it’s going well”, Mr Reilly said. “However, it’s something that needs to be absolutely closely monitored day to day and run and managed for several years”.
Mr Stracke will be replaced in his global engineering job by John Calabrese, who has held other jobs in GM’s worldwide operations.