Nick Reilly Will Run Opel-Vauxhall
By Brendan Moore
General Motors has announced that Nick Reilly, current head of GM’s international operations and veteran company executive, will lead Opel and Vauxhall until a permanent CEO can be hired from outside the company.
Reilly has the Managing Director of Vauxhall in the late 1990’s as one of the previous stops on his long resume with GM, so he should not have much difficulty getting up to speed on his position, but the main issue may be a matter of his available time, as he has had his hands full managing GM’s spectacular growth in Asia from his office in Shanghai.
Not to worry, says GM, as we will move Reilly to Germany temporarily, and the country managers in the Asia region can get along without his physical presence in Asia until a new Opel-Vauxhall leader can be found.
“With his deep experience with the Opel and Vauxhall brands, Nick is well suited to lead this transition and to work toward the earliest possible normalization of the business,” stated GM CEO Fritz Henderson in Ruesselsheim, Germany.
The search for Opel’s new chief will take months rather than weeks, without stretching to “a lot of months. The person should speak German and understand European markets, and doesn’t have to be from an automaker, he said.
GM’s main challenge in Europe is “rebuilding confidence and trust with the workforce and the communities in which we operate,” added Henderson.
Reilly started working for GM in 1975 as an employee at the former Detroit Diesel Allison Division in the UK.
The reason for all of this shuffling is that Carl-Peter Forster resigned from GM Friday after expressing his unhappiness over GM backing out of the agreement to sell Opel to Magna International. The former CEO of Opel was looking forward to leading the new Opel under Magna, and is instead looking for a new position, which, if the chatter is correct, is expected to materialize shortly at Jaguar Land Rover.
Reilly will have his work cut out for him with Opel. A massive restructuring and cost-cutting program is needed, the German unions and the German government are angry about GM reneging on the deal to sell Opel, and there is relentless pressure from a time perspective to do whatever is going to be done as soon as possible. How much of all the work will be led by Reilly is an open question since the search for a replacement CEO of Opel could take anywhere from a week to a year.
Reilly has a reputation as a tough, capable, pragmatic manager, but whatever skills he has will be put to the test in repairing Opel.
Hans Demant, the managing director of Opel, is staying on to lead the company’s management board, and will assist Reilly in this important transition, but it not expected to figure as a candidate in the search for a new CEO.
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