While he was in charge, the carmaker would not steer in any new direction, Sedran promised
Opel's new interim chief will stick to turnaround plan

FRANKFURT, July 18, 2012 (AFP) - The new caretaker chief of troubled German carmaker Opel said in a newspaper interview Wednesday that he will abide by the commitments made to unions and employees as part of a turnaround plan.

"We're honest and honourable business people and will abide by all existing contracts and agreements. Nothing is going to change in that respect," Thomas Sedran told the regional daily Mainzer Allgemeine Zeitung in remarks released ahead of publication on Thursday.

While he was in charge, the carmaker would not steer in any new direction, Sedran promised.

Separately, national daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said in a pre-release of an article to be published in its Thursday edition that 500 middle-management executives -- including directors and divisional heads -- would face the chop in the coming months.

The executives concerned all earned six-digit annual salaries or hundreds of thousands of euros.

They would be offered attractive redundancy packages so that they would leave the company voluntarily, the newspaper reported, quoting supervisory board sources.

Opel, which since 2009 has axed 8,000 jobs out of a total workforce of 48,000, refused to comment on the reported information.

On Tuesday, Opel announced that 47-year-old corporate consultant Sedran would take over as interim chief until a permanent successor can be found for Karl-Friedrich Stracke, who quit last week.

Sedran is already responsible for operations and business strategy, a position he has held since April 1.

In June, Opel's supervisory board approved a deep restructuring plan to steer the firm back into profit.

GM's European operations have run up billions of dollars in losses over the past 10 years and it had planned to sell Opel at one stage but pulled back when it could not find a suitable buyer.

Sedran is Opel's fourth new chief within a period of just three years.

Born in Augsburg in southern Germany, he formerly worked as a corporate consultant with firms such as AlixPartners and Roland Berger.

At AlixPartners, he was division head for the auto industry and has worked closely with Opel in that function since 2009.