General Motors said Friday it will seek a new chief for European operations with Carl-Peter Forster quitting following the automaker’s decision to hang on to its Opel/Vauxhall division.
Forster, GM group vice president and president at Opel Europe, “will be leaving his role as head of European operations and will advise the company during the transition” the Detroit auto giant said in a statement.
“With the departure of Forster, GM will initiate an immediate external search for a new CEO for Opel Europe and will work with Opel leadership, in consultation with representatives of the European Employees Forum, in moving forward with a plan that will build a strong and enduring future for the Opel/Vauxhall brands,” the automaker said.
Sources told AFP earlier that Forster would leave as chief executive.
A report in the German magazine Spiegel said GM executive vice president David Reilly would replace Forster, as GM seeks to soothe anger over its decision this week to abandon a sale of Opel to Canadian group Magna International and Russian partner Sberbank.
Spiegel also reported that Bob Lutz, 77, an industry veteran with vast experience on both sides of the Atlantic at BMW, Ford and Chrysler and currently at GM, would replace Forster as head of Opel’s supervisory board.
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Forster was a keen supporter of Magna’s bid.
On Thursday, GM chief executive Fritz Henderson told reporters in Detroit that he would pick a new management team for Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall within “days or weeks.”
GM has decided to restructure Opel/Vauxhall itself, with the elimination of at least 10,000 jobs and possibly the closure of German factories, a move that has sparked widespread anger in Germany.
Germany is home to about 25,000 Opel workers, roughly half of GM Europe’s total workforce, and the government had lobbied hard for Magna’s bid in hopes of keeping all the German plants running.
Berlin had promised 4.5 billion euros (6.6 billion dollars) in state aid to Magna, angering other European countries where the loss-making Opel has workers because of fears they would bear the brunt of badly needed restructuring.
GM is now expected to seek aid from Germany and other European countries to carry out a three-billion-euro revamp. A German government spokesman said Friday he expected GM to provide details of its plans next week.
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