* Former VW China exec to start at GM, Opel on March 1
* Third Volkswagen manager to join Opel in recent months
* New Opel CEO to join GM's global leadership committee
FRANKFURT, Jan 31 General Motors Co
appointed Volkswagen AG's Karl-Thomas Neumann as
president of GM Europe and chief executive of its struggling
European unit Opel as of March 1, the company said on Thursday.
At Opel, he will immediately be confronted with an operation
that is suffering heavy losses, as well as a weak brand image
and has been unable to utilise GM's substantial scale
Opel has not had a CEO since Karl-Friedrich Stracke was
forced to resign in June. The company had named strategy chief
Thomas Sedran as acting head of the company, in a move that was
widely interpreted by analysts as a sign that the GM unit was
looking for an external candidate.
Neumann, once considered a leading candidate to replace
Martin Winterkorn as VW chief executive, lost out in a
management reshuffle at the group in June. In a surprise move,
he was replaced as head of the group's China operations despite
no outward signs of troubles.
His departure to Opel is the second time he is leaving
He became CEO of German auto parts supplier Continental
in 2008, but was ousted a year later after a spat with
the company's owner, Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler, and her top
lieutenant Juergen Geissinger.
Neumann's arrival, first reported in November, makes him the
third Volkswagen executive to join Opel's board recently after
VW of America's Michael Lohscheller took responsibility for
finances and VW's Skoda head in China, Alfred Rieck, headed up
sales at Opel.