GM names Daewoo transition CEO

LONDON - General Motors last week turned to the chairman of Vauxhall Motors, an old hand at dealing with labor issues, to take on the tough task of resurrecting Daewoo Motor Co. after its acquisition.

Nick Reilly, who is head of the GM subsidiary and vice president of sales, marketing and aftermarket sales for GM Europe, was named head of the Daewoo transition team and CEO-designate. He will assume the posts Jan. 1.

The appointment is a clear indication of GM's determination to complete the takeover of Daewoo. Reilly, who is 51, is charged with leading the Korean carmaker out of the financial ruin left by its parent conglomerate's bankruptcy.

Reilly will report to Rudolph Schlais Jr., president of GM Asia Pacific.

The appointment sparked another round of senior executive changes in Europe. GM named Jonathan Browning, who quit as managing director of Jaguar Cars a month ago, to replace Reilly at GM Europe effective Saturday, Dec. 1. The 42-year-old Browning had left GM to join Jaguar in 1997.

He will be responsible for sales, marketing, brand integration and the orientation of the distribution network supporting GM Europe's vehicles. He also will be responsible for GM's sales subsidiaries in European countries and will play a key role in the implementation of Project Olympia initiatives to return GM Europe to profitability.

Kevin Wale, a 46-year-old Australian who has been Vauxhall managing director since August, was named chairman.

Also at GM Europe, Hans Demant, 51, was named vice president of engineering. He will coordinate engineering activities for GM brands in Europe while retaining his role as head of Opel's International Technical Development Center in Russelsheim, Germany.

Demant succeeds Frank Colvin, 59, who becomes head of fuel cell activities at the Warren Tech Center in suburban Detroit.

Reilly joined GM in 1975 at the then-Detroit Diesel Allison Division in Wellingborough, England, and has worked in Belgium, the United States and Mexico.

As chairman of Vauxhall, he had to deal with difficult union negotiations - first over wages and productivity and later after the huge plant at Luton, England, was shut.

That experience will be an asset in dealing with Korea's notoriously militant unions.

Said Reilly: "I know the Far East in terms of Japan and China, but Korea and Daewoo will be an entirely new challenge for me. I am looking forward to getting to grips with it."

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