IN a move to grow operations in Africa, General Motors has announced it is consolidating its sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa operations into a new unit to be based in Nelson Mandela Bay.
At the helm of the new unit will be Mario Spangenberg, president and managing director of GM North Africa, who will now become president and managing director of GM Africa.
Spangenberg will be based at GM Africa’s headquarters in Port Elizabeth.
The decision to create GM Africa was motivated by the vehicle manufacturer’s belief that Africa has "tremendous long-term potential”.
GM operates in more than 50 markets in Africa, and has manufacturing operations in South Africa, Egypt and Kenya.
Last year, GM sold 180 493 vehicles in Africa, an increase of 17.5% from the previous year.
"Bringing our operations in Africa together will enable us to take advantage of synergies across the continent,” said Tim Lee, GM vice-president for global manufacturing and president for international operations.
"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.”
GM Sub-Saharan Africa communications manager Denise van Huyssteen said it would be premature to comment on the impact of the changes on operations in the Bay, the sub-Saharan Africa headquarters.
Joining Spangenberg’s team is Tarek Atta, who will become managing director of GM Egypt and North Africa.
Edgar Lourenšon, 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.
"We are pleased to have Mario, a proven leader and an agent of change, overseeing our Africa operations,” said Mark Barnes, GM international operations vice-president for sales, marketing and after sales, as well as chief country operations officer, Africa and Australia.
"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 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 career in 1980 at Volkswagen.
"We thank Edgar [Lourenšon] for strengthening our operations in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Lee.
"In the short term, with his background and expertise, we will look to him to provide his leadership in two critical areas – overseeing the launch of our new pickup in South Africa and further strengthening the Isuzu relationship.”