DETROIT -- Soon after calling General Motors' continued losses in Europe "unacceptable," GM CEO Dan Akerson put three of his top lieutenants on the board of the struggling Opel unit.
GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky is now chairman of Opel's supervisory board, GM said last week. CFO Dan Ammann and Tim Lee, president of GM's international operations, also will join the Opel board.
The move is a sign that GM is losing patience with persistent losses in Europe, even after a restructuring that cost $900 million and cut 5,800 jobs there during the first nine months of this year, according to a regulatory filing.
But GM faces tough choices. Europe's debt crisis and stagnant economy are sapping auto sales and thwarting GM's turnaround efforts. And union leaders have said GM's current labor deal in Europe bars factory closings and job cuts through 2014.
In a research note last week, IHS Automotive analyst Tim Urquhart said GM's large German manufacturing footprint is "an obvious target" for cuts, but "any move in this direction would lead to prolonged and potentially damaging labor unrest."
GM also could sell Opel, as its board considered in 2009. But Akerson said in August that Opel was not for sale.
Akerson's board appointments follow the Nov. 7 installment of Karl-Friedrich Stracke as CEO of GM Europe. On Jan. 1 he will replace the retiring Nick Reilly, 61, who also had been chairman of the Opel's board.
Girsky said: "GM is committed to Opel" and "will continue to optimize its cost structure, improve margins and better leverage GM's scale."
Opel lost $292 million in Europe during the third quarter, compared with a loss of $559 million in third quarter of 2010.