News Column

GM's Opel Names Interim CEO

July 19, 2012

Nathan Bomey


A German restructuring consultant who has advised General Motors on turnaround strategies for its struggling European unit has been appointed interim chairman and CEO of Opel, the automaker's top brand on the continent.

Thomas Sedran will serve as Opel's interim leader after previous CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke stepped down last week.

Sedran will report to interim GM Europe President Stephen Girsky, who is charged with ending the company's losses on the continent. GM has lost an average of about $1 billion annually in Europe over the past 12 years. Girsky took over GM Europe when Stracke was reassigned to "special assignments" for CEO Dan Akerson.

Sedran is a former consultant for AlixPartners, which advised GM on its 2009 bankruptcy reorganization and has helped the automaker identify strategies in Europe. He's a native of Germany who earned an MBA from the University of Hohenheim and a PhD from Ludwig Maximilian University. He also previously led Roland Berger Strategy Consultants' Competence Center Automotive operation.

GM recently said it had secured a tentative agreement with German labor groups to delay pay increases, avoid layoffs and close a manufacturing facility in Bochum, Germany, after 2016.

But analysts have said the company's plan shows it has no quick fix for its losses in Europe, which are expected to be substantial when GM reports second-quarter results in two weeks.

"We will continue to implement our business plan as it was outlined and work to improve it," Opel supervisory board chairman Girsky said in a statement. "We will further reduce bureaucracy and continue to challenge the corporate culture."

Source: (c)2012 the Detroit Free Press. Distributed by MCT Information Services

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