GM's Opel names new finance chief, R&D head

FRANKFURT Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:51am EDT

A factory building of German car manufacturer Opel is pictured at the headquarters in Ruesselsheim July 17, 2012. REUTERS/Alex Domanski

A factory building of German car manufacturer Opel is pictured at the headquarters in Ruesselsheim July 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Alex Domanski

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - General Motors' (GM.N) European unit Opel has named Michael Lohscheller, who helped turn around Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE) loss-making U.S. operations, as its new chief financial officer as part of a broader management reshuffle.

The 43-year-old German national will join Opel after four years in the United States at VW where he was CFO of the national sales operation, the company said on Wednesday.

He will start on September 1, replacing Mark James.

The move comes a day after GM appointed Thomas Sedran, a restructuring specialist, as interim chief executive of Opel, and said it would redouble efforts to return the ailing European automobile brand to profitability.

Opel said incoming CFO Lohscheller gathered key experience managing finance, IT, purchasing and logistics over the past 20 years, working at companies including Mitsubishi Motors Europe (7211.T), Daimler (DAIGn.DE) and forklift truck maker Jungheinrich (JUNG_p.DE).

European carmaker Opel, which operates in the UK as Vauxhall, also promoted its global vehicle lie executive for compact cars, Michael Ableson, to head of research & development, where he replaces Rita Forst.

In a statement Stephen Girsky, GM vice chairman and GM Europe president, said Lohscheller and Ableson would "help accelerate the Opel Revitalisation plan".

Both appointees will need the approval of the supervisory board at their next meeting, Opel said.

Separately, Volkswagen said in a statement that Lohscheller's replacement would be Hardy Brennecke. The 38-year-old former sales controller for the brand's range of light commercial vehicles has most recently been reporting directly to the group's CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch on key projects.

"With his extensive experience in Wolfsburg, he also brings the very needed element of having established strong networks at headquarters, which are critical in communicating our progress, and future opportunities at the appropriate times," Volkswagen Group of America CEO Jonathan Browning said.

Brenneck will be responsible for the financial functions of VW and Audi Brand Controlling, Group Controlling, Treasury, Purchasing for the National Sales Company and Tax.

(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner and Maria Sheahan; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)