FRANKFURT -- Opel declined to comment on a report that Volkswagen manager and former Continental CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann is set to become head of the money-losing General Motors Co. unit.
Neumann, 51, could become Opel CEO next summer after a non-compete clause runs out, the Financial Times Deutschland reported today, citing industry sources.
"Neumann at the top would be good for Opel. He has the caliber we need," the paper quoted an unidentified Opel board member as saying.
An Opel spokesman told Automotive News Europe: "As a general rule, the company does not comment on speculation about personnel."
Neumann may sign a contract with Opel in 2013, Reuters reported, citing two sources at VW group. Neumann is in advanced negotiations with Opel after he and VW agreed to terminate his contract earlier this summer following a reshuffle of managers at the VW group, one of the sources said.
Neumann was head of VW's China operations until June when he as replaced by VW veteran Jochem Heizmann and not given a new role in the company. He was touted as a possible successor to VW CEO Martin Winterkorn when he joined VW three years ago after he had quit Continental following a power struggle with controlling shareholder Schaeffler Group.
Neumann would replace Thomas Sedran who was named acting Opel CEO earlier this year when GM removed Karl-Friedrich Stracke from the post because of the unit's declining sales. Sedran, who formerly worked for management consultants AlixPartners, does not have the technical experience needed to lead a car division, the Financial Times Deutschland quoted an Opel manager as saying.
Opel has been a drag on GM's results, leading the automaker to push for changes at the European unit, which has lost a total of $16 billion over the last dozen years despite repeated rounds of job cuts.
In the third quarter GM Europe, which sells Opel and Vauxhall vehicles, posted an operating loss of $478 million.