General Motors Consolidates Operations in Africa

12 Jan 2013

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General motors consolidates its African operations in order to take advantage of synergies across the continent thus positioning itself for expansion in a continent with long-term potential for vehicle sales growth, WRITES OLAOLU OLUSINA

With plans for 20 vehicle launches globally in 2013, the world’s fastest-growing major automotive brand, General Motors Co., it out to take advantage of synergies across the African continent. This it has decided to do by consolidating its operations in Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa and merging them into a new unit to be known as GM Africa. The new arrangement, which is expected to position the company to expand in a part of the world that has long-term potential for vehicle sales growth, takes immediate effect.

General Motors Co. and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world’s largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM’s brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling.

And with the new development, Mario A. Spangenberg, currently president and managing director of GM North Africa, becomes the president and managing director of GM Africa. He will be based at GM Africa’s headquarters in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In the same vein, Tarek Atta will become managing director of GM Egypt and North Africa, reporting to Spangenberg.

All these were contained in a statement issued on Tuesday from GM Africa’s headquarters in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and made available to THISDAY in Lagos.

According to the statement, Edgar Lourençon, who has served as managing director of GM South Africa and president of GM Sub-Saharan Africa since November 2009, will assist in the transition and repatriate to South America later this year. He will report to Mark Barnes, GM International Operations vice president, Sales, Marketing and Aftersales, and chief country operations officer, Africa and Australia.

GM vice president, Global Manufacturing, and president, International Operations, Tim Lee, is quite excited at the development and is quite upbeat about the transition. “Bringing our operations in Africa together will enable us to take advantage of synergies across the continent,” he said in the statement.“It will put GM in a strong position to expand in a part of the world that has tremendous long-term potential for vehicle sales growth.”

With operations in more than 50 markets in Africa and manufacturing operations in South Africa, Egypt and Kenya, GM sold 180,493 vehicles in Africa in 2012, an increase of 17.5 percent from the previous year.

“We are pleased to have Mario, a proven leader and an agent of change, overseeing our Africa operations,” said Barnes. “He has done an outstanding job growing GM’s business in North Africa, despite intense political and economic challenges.”

Spangenberg has been in his present position since July 1, 2011. He earlier held key posts in other parts of the world, including director of Sales Operations for GM de Mexico, managing director of International Sales for GM Daewoo Auto & Technology in South Korea, and director of Marketing for Adam Opel AG in Germany. He began his industry career in 1980 at Volkswagen.

“We thank Edgar for strengthening our operations in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Lee. “In the short term, with his background and expertise, we will look for Edgar to provide his leadership in two critical areas – overseeing the launch of our new pickup in South Africa and further strengthening the Isuzu relationship.”

In addition to his most recent assignment in GM International Operations, Lourençon has held several important positions in South America, including director of Quality and director of Sales and Field Operations for GM in Latin America, and president and managing director of GM Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Peru and Bolivia. He joined the company in 1977 as an engineer in Manufacturing Engineering at GM Brasil.

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