Starting Nov. 15, Donald Walker will become Magna International Inc.’s sole chief as co-CEO Siegfried Wolf has resigned to join an affiliate of Russia's GAZ Group. According to a statement from Canada's largest auto-parts maker, Wolf has resigned from Magna’s board as well. Wolf will take on an unspecified role at Basic Element and its machinery division OJSC Russian Machines, the parent company of GAZ.
Frank Stronach, Magna's chairman, said that Russian billionaire and GAZ owner Oleg Deripaska asked Magna for permission for Basic Element to make an offer to Wolf. Stonach said Magna is now set to further reinforce its relationship with Basic Element and to boost its growth in the recovering Russian automotive market.
In a statement, Stronach said that Basic Element benefits from an “experienced manager with extensive full vehicle assembly expertise who can immediately assist its automotive division in pursuing its modernization and growth strategy.”
Walker also stated that Wolf is credited for building a strong European management team for Magna as well as enhancing its relationships with its European-based customers.
Last year, Magna partnered with Russian lender OAO Sberbank to make a bid to acquire General Motors Co.'s Opel unit. Back then, the partners reveled they would consider making Opel cars at GAZ's facilities in the central Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.
Wolf made a mark at Magna as he pushed for the expansion in the electric-car market. Last May, Wolf said that Magna intends to invest up to $600 million building new plants in the US and the European Union to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. Last weekend, Stronach stated that there would be a smooth transition in management. [via autonews - sub. required]