BRUSSELS - The General Motors subsidiary Adam Opel AG is likely to get a new chairman next month, ending a long and bloody power struggle in Europe.
Opel's supervisory board said last week it will vote June 9 on a request from parent company GM to name Gary Cowger, 51, as the new chairman and managing director of Opel. Current Chairman David Herman, 52, would be released from his contract to become GM's new vice president for Russia and the other markets of the former Soviet Union.
Sources said Herman asked for the Russia job because of a bitter internal battle between Opel and executives at GM International Operations in Zurich, where GM's European and international operations are based. Opel supervisory board members had threatened to block Herman's transfer but are now expected to approve the changes because GM International Operations and its top managers are being transferred to Detroit this fall.
By distancing the executives and projects of GM International Operations from Opel, GM hopes to stop the management and resource drain on Opel caused by GM's ambitious international expansion program, sources said. The dispute had pitted Herman against Lou Hughes, president of GM International Operations.
Hughes tried to replace Herman last fall and again in early 1998, but he was blocked by powerful members of the Opel supervisory board. Cowger was brought to Europe in January but given the transitional job of vice president of manufacturing for GM Europe. A 33-year veteran of GM, Cowger was formerly president of GM de Mexico.
Herman has been chairman of Opel since July 1992.