BRUSSELS - Peter Hanenberger, Adam Opel AG's product development chief, is expected to take the top job at GM's Australian unit, Holden Ltd.
Sources say Hanenberger, 57, will leave Opel by early summer to become managing director of Holden.
Opel's supervisory board last fall vetoed Hanenberger's appointment as head of Opel. GM Chairman Jack Smith had proposed Hanenberger to replace Gary Cowger, who was named head of GM labor relations in the United States.
Hanenberger was opposed strongly by a majority of supervisory board members, and his name was withdrawn. Saab CEO Robert Hendry was approved as Opel chief executive in November.
Sources said that the rejection caused Hanenberger deep public humiliation and that GM management and Hendry wanted to avoid a similar confrontation when Hanenberger's current contract ends in June. They said the board has made it clear it would not renew Hanenberger's contract.
Hanenberger was caught in a bitter internal dispute last year between some Opel officials and GM International, then based in Zurich, Switzerland. Hanenberger was also head of engineering for GM International, and critics blamed him for Opel quality and image problems and loss of market share.
Hanenberger and Lou Hughes, president of GM International Operations at the time, were accused of stripping Opel of engineering resources and talent for non-European projects.
At Holden, Hanenberger will replace James Wiemels, an American who has been there since March 1997.