BERLIN/HAMBURG (Reuters) - General Motors’ (GM.N) Opel division may appoint former Volkswagen manager Karl-Thomas Neumann as chief executive next year, company sources said, as the U.S. car maker aims to revamp its loss-making European business.
Neumann, previously head of VW’s (VOWG_p.DE) China operations, may sign a contract with Opel in 2013, two sources at VW group said on Friday on condition they not be identified because the matter is still private.
Neumann, who was also CEO of auto parts and tire maker Continental (CONG.DE) between Sept 2008 and Aug 2009, would be the 17th CEO at Ruesselsheim-based Opel since the car maker’s heydays in the early 1970s.
Fixing Opel, which trades as Vauxhall in Britain, has become a top priority for GM chief executive Dan Akerson, who has demanded an end to the $3.5 billion in underlying losses racked up after the U.S. parent emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.
Financial Times Deutschland reported the move late on Thursday, saying that Neumann’s appointment still required approval of Opel’s supervisory board.
The earliest Neumann would take over as Opel CEO was next summer due to barring clauses, FTD said, without citing its sources.
GM, which said on Wednesday it expects a full-year operating loss of $1.5 to $1.8 billion in Europe, had appointed Thomas Sedran, formerly with turnaround consultants AlixPartners, as interim CEO on July 17.
Neumann is in advanced negotiations with Opel after he and VW agreed to terminate his contract earlier this summer following a reshuffle of managers at the VW group, one of the sources said. Neumann, aged 51, took the helm of VW’s China operations on Sept 1, 2010.
VW and Opel declined to comment. (Reporting By Andreas Cremer; Editing by Victoria Bryan)