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Shake-Up at Opel Continues

New CEO named as two more senior execs are ousted.

by on Jul.18, 2012

New Opel CEO Dr. Thomas Sedran.

General Motors is continuing a massive shake-up at its money-losing European operations as part of a broader turnaround plan.

The latest move puts board member Thomas Sedran in charge of Opel while two other executives with the German-based brand are being replaced.

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Sedran, who had been serving as the deputy chairman of the Opel board is a turnaround specialist who previously worked with Detroit’s AlixPartners a consulting firm that played a major role in GM’s 2009 bankruptcy. He also led the automotive competitive analysis operations for the Roland Berger consultancy.

With a PhD from Ludwig Maximilian University, Sedran replaces Karl-Friedrich Stracke as Opel’s CEO.  Stracke was yanked from that post after less than a year and will be handling “special assignments” for GM Chairman and Chief Executive Dan Akerson.

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Stracke Out as GM Europe Chief, Girsky In

Another shake-up roils troubled operation.

by on Jul.12, 2012

In: former auto analyst Steve Girsky.

Once again, the music has stopped in the game of musical chairs at General Motors troubled European operations and this time it’s Karl-Friedrich Stracke, GME President and CEO of Opel/Vauxhall who was left without a seat.

The long-time German engineer, who took the European post only last November, is the latest victim in a worsening crisis that will now test GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky.  A long-time Wall Street auto analyst-cum-automotive-executive, Girsky has been chairing the Opel Supervisory Board and will now take over as GM Europe’s interim chief while the search begins for a new boss.

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“Karl Stracke worked tirelessly, under great pressure, to stabilize this business and we look forward to building on his success. We appreciate Karl’s many contributions to GM’s success,” Akerson said.

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More European Plant Closings Coming – But Who’ll be First?

by on Mar.19, 2012

“Europe, today, is a place where all manufacturers have capacity problems,” says Renault CEO Ghosn.

European automakers are desperately hoping that the just-concluded Geneva Motor Show will give the industry a much-needed push.  But with the Greek debt crisis still unsettled and economic problems spreading to other parts of the Continent, few expect automotive sales to rebound this year.

That’s likely to put even more pressure on the industry to address the chronic problem of overcapacity – which by some counts is running to several million vehicles annually.  Yet while almost all industry leaders agree that plant closings are needed no one seems to want to go first.

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“Europe, today, is a place where all manufacturers have capacity problems,” says Carlos Ghosn, CEO of The Renault-Nissan Alliance.

The Brazilian-born Ghosn estimates the industry may need to shrink capacity by as much as 20%, but everyone is waiting for the other guy to blink.  “The day it starts, every manufacturer will have to follow.”

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GM Europe Coming Under Tough New Scrutiny

Balance sheet bleeding again.

by on Nov.09, 2011

Opel's declining market share is weighing down the General Motors balance sheet.

General Motors faltering European operations are coming in for additional scrutiny from GM’s top management after posting a loss for the third quarter – and putting an end to hopes of finally staunching the flow of red ink at the troubled subsidiary.

GM Europe finished the quarter reporting an EBIT-adjusted loss of $300 million. Overall, GM earned $1.7 billion in the third quarter, compared to $2 billion during the same period in 2010, the 15% decline largely the result of problems in Europe and Latin America.  (Click Here for more on GM’s second quarter results.)

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GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann lamented that, “We have to do a better job in Europe and South America. The results there are just not sustainable.”

GME had shown some positive signs by breaking even during the first quarter of 2011 and turning in a modest profit three months later, but the latest figures raise questions about forecasts that the European subsidiary will be able to push back into the black for all of 2012.

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Management Shake-Up Coming to GM Europe

With maker clawing back, chief engineer Stracke taking over.

by on Nov.08, 2011

GM Europe Chief Engineer Karl-Friedrich Stracke will take over the long-troubled subsidiary in January.

General Motors will shake up its top European management as the long-troubled subsidiary finally claws its way back into the black.

In a significant move underscoring the role of product in the long-awaited turnaround, GM has named former chief engineer Karl-Friedrich Stracke to become president of GM Europe, succeeding Nick Reilly, who will be retiring.

If anything, the 61-year-old Brit will be sent off with honors after 37 years with GM.  Reilly has served as something of a turnaround specialist at GM during the course of his long career, and has been credited with significant improvements in operations including not just Europe but the former GMDAT, the Korean subsidiary recently renamed Chevrolet.

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“Nick Reilly has answered the call for GM at every turn,” said GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson.  “He returned to Europe and successfully led the turnaround of our operations there during one of the most tumultuous times in our company’s history.”

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