Carl-Peter Forster will be leaving his role as head of European operations and “will advise” the company during the transition to find a new CEO, it was announced by GM today.
Insiders say Forster was taken by surprise by the sudden reversal on Monday by the GM Board of Directors to reject a sale of Opel/Vauxhall to Canadian auto supplier Magna and Sberbank, a large Russian financial institution.
Forster had been a vocal supporter of the sale, as had been German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German Metal Workers union. The Magna sale was thought to protect more jobs and plants in Germany, while imposing greater burdens on Opel/Vauxhall operations elsewhere in Europe, than a competing bid from a Belgium based investment group.
It was not immediately clear if Forster was pushed out or he left in a dispute over how many jobs and plants would be closed in an impending revised Opel reorganization, which will be undertaken by GM alone, if government and labor union approvals are forthcoming. Perhaps, Forster pushed the Board too hard to accept a German favored solution.
GM claimed that no other management changes to the Opel Europe organization are being considered at this time, and that all key management roles remain while the search for a CEO for Opel Europe commences.
GM insiders say it needs to cut at least 30% in structural costs, eliminate 10,000 jobs and close one or more plants for Opel to be viable. The cost of the restructuring is estimated at €3 billion, or $4.5 billion.
Forster will be replaced temporarily by Nick Reilly, the British head of GM’s international operations.