After a rash of interim-CEOs, Opel may have found a more permanent one. It’s the former Volkswagen manager Karl-Thomas Neumann. The successful recruitment was first published by Financial Times Deutschland, the report was quickly confirmed by wire services and major German newspapers.
Reuters says that Neumann may sign a contract with Opel in 2013. Currently, there are contractual ties with Volkswagen. Neumann’s last job at VW was head of its Chinese operations, which he became with great fanfare.
This summer, Neumann was toppled in China. It had been leaked that the reason was problems with Volkswagen’s dual clutch transmission, which Neumann allegedly had ignored. My informants in Beijing had a different story: Neumann was too timid with his sales forecasts for China, they said. He only budgeted 3 million units until 2018. New China chief Jochem Heizmann immediately budgeted for a Strategie 2018 compliant 4 million. That’s what Volkswagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn wanted to hear.
For a while it looked like Neumann would be disposed of as chief of Skoda, Volkswagen’s spent fuel pond for formerly hot executives. His predecessor in China, Winfried Vahland, had taken the same route. Instead, Neumann wanted out and negotiated a severance deal with Volkswagen. He immediately landed on the shortlist for future Opel CEOs.
At Opel, Neumann would have to be confirmed by the supervisory board. VW and Opel declined to comment.