Opel refused to comment on a report that Karl-Thomas Neumann, Volkswagen manager and former Continental chief executive, will be named as its top honcho, the Financial Times Deutschland reported, citing industry sources. The Financial Times Deutschland cites an unnamed Opel board member as saying that Neumann as Opel’s new chief would be good for the carmaker since he has the caliber that the company needs.
An Opel spokesman told Automotive News Europe that as a general rule, the carmaker does not comment on speculation about personnel. Neumann was VW's chief for its China operations until June 2012, when he was supplanted by Jochem Heizmann and did not receive a new role in the German carmaker. He was regarded as a likely heir to VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn when he joined VW three years ago.
According to the report, Neumann would replace Thomas Sedran who has been acting as Opel’s chief executive since early this year after GM sacked Karl-Friedrich Stracke because of the unit's declining sales. Sedran does not possess the technical experience needed to lead a car division, an Opel manager was quoted by the Financial Times Deutschland as saying.
Loss-making Opel has been one of the main headaches for GM, forcing the parent to carry out vital adjustments at its unit. Opel posted $16 billion in total losses over the last dozen years despite efforts to save costs. GM Europe posted $478 million in operating losses in the third quarter of 2012.