OPEL CHAIRMAN David Herman will be replaced this spring by Gary Cowger; the former head of General Motors' Mexican operations. That much is certain. But it is hard to believe that Herman will go to Moscow to run GM's eastern European operations.
Cowger is a manufacturing expert who performed well in Mexico. He is an excellent choice for Opel. And who better for eastern Europe than Herman, who has had a special interest in the region since the early days of his GM career. Herman is a pure internationalist, having served almost everywhere in every kind of job for the corporation. He would serve GM well in Russia.
But will he go to Moscow after having run all of Opel?
Even if Herman had not clashed with International Operations boss Lou Hughes last year there would be limited upward opportunities for him at GM. He has been chairman for six years, longer than any Opel chief in recent memory. Robert Stempel ran Opel for only 18 months on his fast track ride to the top of GM.
Herman faces a career predicament not unlike the one Bob Eaton found himself in a few years ago, when Eaton was president of GM Europe.
Eaton, now chairman of Chrysler, could provide an option for Herman. To his credit, Eaton didn't bring a horde of ex-GMers with him to Chrysler. But Herman - who Eaton chose to run Saab many years ago - could be the right man to accelerate Chrysler in Europe and elsewhere around the world.