* 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 advantages.
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 Volkswagen.
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.
GDP data shows Britain's economy can cope with EU exit - Hammond
LONDON, Oct 27 British finance minister Philip Hammond said that Thursday's better-than-expected GDP growth showed the economy was resilient and well-placed to cope with the challenges thrown up by Britain's exit from the European Union.
GLOBAL MARKETS-European shares up as banks reassure, dollar holds near highs
LONDON, Oct 27 Reassuring results from some of Europe's biggest banks gave financials a boost on Thursday and helped offset weakness in oil-related stocks, while higher bond yields underpinned the dollar.