Hans Demant’s move to Volkswagen was like a punch in the gut for Opel

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 9, 2010

Hans Demant’s move to Volkswagen last month had been a shock to most people, especially his colleagues at Opel, General Motors Co.'s German subsidiary, where he served as CEO right before he jumped.

A source at Opel's Ruesselsheim headquarters said that the transfer took everyone by surprise and that the fact that it was to Volkswagen was the “amazing part.”

A senior union representative said that Demant had always said that he was “very tied to the brand emotionally" but his move to VW “easily wipes that away." Demant was with Opel for 38 years, mostly in product development.

From 2004 through late 2009, Demant held the top job at CEO before Nick Reilly replaced him. Last January, he became GM's head of intellectual-property rights.

Sources want to call attention to the fact that Demant has knowledge of Opel's product plans and its important patents.

Critics say that Opel should have been able to thwart Demant’s transfer to Opel's main competitor. Typically, senior executives have to wait months before they can move to a competitor.

For instance, Ex-GM Europe chief Carl-Peter Forster had to wait for several months before he could begin at India's Tata Group this year. In 2000, Forster moved from BMW to Opel but he waited almost a year before he could join the company.

Demant was subject to a similar noncompete clause but not after he left the CEO position. Demant will start coordinating international projects at VW Group on Oct. 1. [via autonews - sub. required]

Topics: vw, opel

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