November 7, 2011 / 3:16 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-GM Europe head Reilly to retire in March

* Nick Reilly to be replaced by Opel chief Stracke

* Stracke to take over as GM Europe President on Jan. 1

* Reilly to stay on as advisor until he retires in March

FRANKFURT, Nov 7 (Reuters) - General Motors said Nick Reilly, the head of its European business, will retire after 37 years with the company and will be replaced by Opel chief Karl-Friedrich Stracke.

Stracke will take over as President of GM Europe on Jan. 1 and will remain chief executive of Opel, GM said on Monday. Reilly , 61, will stay on as an advisor until he retires in March.

GM once tried to spin off loss-making Opel but dropped that plan in 2009, backtracking on months of negotiations, and appointed Reilly to head the business, which lost $1.6 billion last year.

“Nick Reilly has answered the call for GM at every turn,” GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said in a statement.

“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.”

Earlier this year, GM appointed Stracke to head Opel but kept on Reilly as head of the overall European business.

GM Europe, which includes U.K. sister brand Vauxhall, expects to break even this year and show a profit in 2012.

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