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Holden future looks secure as Batey takes helm

Going home: Holden chief Mark Reuss is heading back to Detroit for a key product role.

Alan Batey to lead Holden into new era as Reuss returns to GM for key product role

Holden logo24 Jul 2009

GM HOLDEN has named sales and marketing chief Alan Batey as its incoming chairman and managing director, succeeding Mark Reuss who will return to the United States to take up a senior product development role for parent General Motors.

The fourth boss of the Australian car manufacturer in less than two years, Mr Batey will take up the position on September 1.

The appointment is part of a leaner leadership structure announced overnight for GM’s Shanghai-based international operations, which was formed earlier this month as the American auto giant emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and embarked on a massive global restructuring program.

The man behind the changes, Nick Reilly, who as international operations president effectively controls the GM empire outside the US, said it was a strong endorsement of current Holden management that the new chairman was selected from within existing ranks, which GoAuto understands has not occurred since 1970.

Mr Reilly also said Mr Batey was well placed to lead such an “important member of the GM family” as it takes on “even more important global roles”.

 center imageLeft: GM Holden's new chairman and managing director Alan Batey.

Mr Batey is a Brit with three decades’ experience with GM, rising through the ranks of Vauxhall, GM Europe and GM Middle East before transferring to GM Daewoo in 2001 as vice-president of commercial operations, where he worked with Mr Reilly to transform the troubled South Korean manufacturer into GM’s resurgent Asian small-car division under the Chevrolet and Holden brands.

With that task completed, he moved to Holden in October 2005 to replace the retiring Ross McKenzie as executive director of sales, marketing and aftersales.

“Alan brings extensive leadership experience, exceptional product and commercial knowledge and a real passion for Holden,” Mr Reilly said. “He has worked for GM across four continents and brings crucial continuity of leadership for Holden in what is a highly competitive marketplace.” Federal industry minister Kim Carr, who met with Mr Reilly last week in Shanghai, said he was aware of Holden’s imminent management change and welcomed the appointment.

“Mr Batey has the ideal combination of international experience and local knowledge,” Senator Carr said. “The Australian government regrets Mr Reuss’ departure, and I will personally miss his friendship and wise counsel, but Mr Batey’s appointment will guarantee continuity and ensure that the innovation partnership between Holden and the Commonwealth stays strong.

“Both the company and the government remain squarely focused on creating investment and employment opportunities for Australia.” Mr Reuss, who also serves as the president of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), will return to Detroit after 18 months in the chair at GM Holden. He succeeded Chris Gubbey, who had been installed as the replacement for Denny Mooney but spent just six months here before being redirected to Russia.

While Mr Reuss’ new appointment is still to be announced, Mr Reilly said it was a “senior leadership role” within GM’s global product development division that would be see him “remain a strong friend of Holden”.

“Mark’s leadership during what has been a tumultuous time for the auto industry, both in Australia and globally, has been outstanding,” Mr Reilly said. “At a time when the industry has been in crisis and where the parent company has been through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, Mark has championed the interests of Holden at every turn.

“He has played a pivotal role in ensuring it is an important part of the ‘New GM’. He achieved a great deal in a relatively short time and returns to a key role in GM where he will remain a strong friend of Holden.” Senator Carr added: “Mark Reuss has made a wonderful contribution not just to Holden, but to the broader Australian automotive industry. It is pleasing to see that General Motors shares our view of his enormous talents.

“Mark Reuss joins a growing cadre of global automotive executives with an intimate knowledge of the Australian car industry and its capabilities. That is a very good thing for this country.” Mr Reilly has also named GM Powertrain Europe vice-president Mike Arcamone as the incoming president and CEO of GM Daewoo, replacing Michael Grimaldi, who is retiring.

“GM Holden and GM Daewoo will be in good hands with Alan Batey and Mike Arcamone,” Mr Reilly said. “They will be in charge of leading two important members of the GM family as both take on even more important global roles.” In detailing the latest restructure, Mr Reilly announced the retirement of GM Asia Pacific manufacturing operations vice-president Bob Moran, and the relocation of GM Asia Pacific engineering vice-president (and China engineering executive director) Ray Bierzynski, who, like Mr Reuss, will return to the US to assume a senior role in global product development.

Former Holden executive Kevin Wale remains the head of GM China, while other key personnel in the region include Steve Carlisle (GM South East Asia Operations), Michael Devereux (GM Middle East), Steve Koch (GM South Africa), Rick Brown (GM Japan) and Wayne Brannon (Chevrolet-Europe).

GM has also announced overnight a smaller executive committee that will lead the day-to-day operations of GM out of Detroit, replacing the previous automotive strategy board and the automotive product board.

Led by GM president and chief executive Fritz Henderson, the new committee comprises Mr Reilly and the following executives: marketing and communications vice-president Bob Lutz, global product development vice-chairman Tom Stephens, chief financial officer Ray Young, global manufacturing and labour relations group vice-president Tim Lee (replacing Gary Cowger), corporate planning and alliances group vice-president John Smith, US sales vice-president Mark LaNeve and global purchasing and supply chain vice-president Bob Socia.

Five new members to the board of the newly formed General Motors Company have also been announced: former GM Canada advisory board member Carol Stephenson, The Carlyle Group managing director Daniel Akerson, TPG partner David Bonderman, former Burlington Northern Santa Fe chairman Robert Krebs and former Alcatel-Lucent chief executive Patricia Russo.

As previously reported, the 13-member board is led by former AT&T chairman Edward Whitacre Jr and includes 10 representatives nominated by the US treasury, one representative nominated by the governments of Canada and Ontario and one representative nominated by the United Auto Workers’ Retiree Medical Benefits Trust. Fritz Henderson serves as the 13th member.

“The members of this new board of directors bring immense experience and diverse perspectives to the table, and that’s exactly what GM needs,” said Mr Whitacre.

“The collective expertise of the new board of directors is vital at this time as GM seeks to redefine itself as the vehicle design and customer care leader of the extremely competitive auto business.”

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