GM Korea head resigns

on Jul6

James Kim is leaving GM’s South Korean unit amid falling demand and a new round of wage talks with an oft-contentious union.

After a year and a half at the helm, the CEO of General Motors’ massive South Korean business is resigning to lead the nation’s American Chamber of Commerce.

James Kim, who took over the division in January 2016, will remain through Aug. 31, a GM Korea spokeswoman said Wednesday. He will take an expanded role at the American Chamber of Commerce of Korea, where he has served concurrently as chairman during his time at GM.

Kim’s departure comes at a sensitive time for GM’s Korean unit, which operates four assembly plants and supplies a sizable portion of global Chevrolet output.

Production is being squeezed by falling demand for its products in South Korea and overseas, and the company is embroiled in a new round of wage talks with an oft-contentious union.

Sales of GM Korea products, including domestic sales and exports, tumbled 21 percent to 43,692 vehicles in June and were down 9.3 percent for first six months of the year.

GM has not named a replacement for Kim but expects to do so shortly, spokeswoman Jina Hwang said. Kim will stay on as an adviser to GM Korea after he steps down.

Stefan Jacoby, president of GM International, issued a brief statement thanking Kim for his work at GM and calling him a “tireless promoter” of the company.

“Jim has driven domestic sales, helped build the equity of our brands, and reached out to our customers in new and innovative ways,” Jacoby said.

Kim was poached from Microsoft Korea in June 2015 and named CEO the following year, replacing veteran engineering and production guru Sergio Rocha.

GM Korea ended up being saddled with excess capacity when headquarters in Detroit decided in late 2013 to pull the plug on Chevrolet in Europe. 

This year’s move to sell Germany’s Opel and U.K. sister brand Vauxhall to PSA Group was a further warning shot that money-losing global operations are being critically re-evaluated.



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