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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
GM creates Europe-wide management
Opel Tigra
GM's European brands are losing money and market share
General Motors, the world's biggest car maker, has centralised its European operations to tighten co-operation and save money.

GM merged its three European car making businesses - Opel, Vauxhall and Saab - under a single regional chairman, based in Zurich.

It named Fritz Henderson, the recently-appointed head of European operations, as GM Europe chairman.

The management shake-up was not accompanied by any job cuts.

GM will continue to have 11 plants in Europe, but management and design will be co-ordinated from Zurich, doing away with the old system of autonomous management teams.

Thinking as one

GM promoted Carl-Peter Forster from his job as head of Adam Opel to be Mr Henderson's deputy. Adam Opel is GM's biggest European unit.

"General Motors will appear as one unified group in future. We'll cultivate a single corporate culture with all subsidiaries pulling in the same direction," said GM's group chairman and chief executive, Rick Waggoner.

GM said the changes would simplify its European operations and speed up decision making.

The company also said it wants to set up a centralised design team to increase efficiency.

It aims to make sure models share invisible features like seat frames, without sacrificing brand character.

While General Motors group-wide profits have steadied, its European business has been loss-making since 1999, and has predicted another full year loss in 2004.

GM Europe posted losses of $116m (63m) in the first quarter of 2004, up from $65m year-earlier.

GM has cut 2,500 jobs in Europe since 2001 to try and restore profitability to its European brands.

GM's share of the European car market has fallen by 1% to 9.2% since 2001.

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