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GM seen step away from giving up on Opel for good

Published on Jul 16, 2012 2:20 PM

FRANKFURT (REUTERS) - Just hours after General Motors (GM) abruptly fired Mr Karl-Friedrich Stracke as chief executive officer (CEO) of Opel last week, industry observers were already beginning to ask whether it was time to start writing the troubled European unit's epitaph.

Since GM emerged from bankruptcy three years ago, Opel has racked up US$3.5 billion (S$4.4 billion) in underlying losses thanks to an ever shrinking European car market, a bloated fixed cost base and an image that GM has helped bring low.

In the past four weeks, however, management and labour had made promising signs of progress, approving a mid-term business plan and agreeing to end production at a German factory in 2017 as the basis for restructuring negotiations. Morgan Stanley analysts even began shifting their attention from GM's Opel problems to those of Ford in Europe.

All for nothing as everything appears to be up in the air again, including killing off the brand, even if company sources argue one person's departure changes little. GM and Opel have not commented publicly on the reasons for Mr Stracke's removal, other than to say he would 'take on special assignments' at GM.

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