Another Holden boss departs
Alan Batey becomes fourth MD in three years to exit Holden for another position.
Holden has lost its fourth managing director and chairman in three years, with no one announced as a successor, leaving the company virtually rudderless in uncertain times.
Englishman Alan Batey served just six months in the hot seat since his appointment in September last year, now poached by GM in Detroit to be Chevrolet's vice president of sales and service.
''This comes as a shock, not just to you but to me,'' Mr Batey said. ''It's happened very, very quickly.''
As recently as December, a Holden spokesman told Fairfax that rumours Mr Batey would soon leave the Australian car maker were ''completely and utterly false''.
Mr Batey was in Brazil last week scoping new products when he received the call that there was a position waiting for him in the US.
''I leave Holden at a time when clearly our fortunes are turning for the better, we have a great plan in place to return to profitability,'' he said.
Mr Batey said Holden's chief financial officer, Mark Bernhard, ''supported by Holden's senior leadership team, will ensure continuity and the seamless execution of the company's strategic plan until a replacement is named''.
A replacement was expected to be named ''very quickly...I think it will happen within the next month'', Mr Batey said.
The top job at Holden has proved to be a short term proposition of recent times.
Mr Batey was appointed after his predecessor, Mark Reuss, returned to the US to take up senior positions in the midst of GM's financial meltdown last year after just 18 months in Holden's top job.
Mr Reuss replaced Chris Gubbey, who stayed just seven months in the top job, before taking up a position in GM Russia.
Mr Gubbey succeeded Denny Mooney, who returned to GM in the US in August 2007, before retiring last year.
Mr Batey will report to his old boss, Mr Reuss, who is now GM's North America president, raising export hopes for locally made Commodores to be sold in the US as Chevrolets, after the Pontiac brand was axed to make way for the ''new GM'' post-bankruptcy.
''If there's opportunities for Holden product that can enhance our portfolio and help us sell more cars, we'll obviously look at it seriously,'' Mr Batey said.
At Holden before being elevated to the top position, Mr Batey was executive director of sales and marketing. He masterminded the tactic of ''ambush marketing'' by arranging a giant airship with a video screen on its flanks — unofficially dubbed the ''Holdenberg'' — to fly over major sporting events to promote the then new VE Commodore, upsetting events' official sponsors.
With so many ex-Holden chief taking up senior positions in the GM empire, speculation is rife the outgoing Mitsubishi Australia chairman and chief executive Rob McEniry, might be heading back to GM, too.
Mr McEniry, who served at GM for decades, announced last month he would leave Mitsubishi at the end of March ''to pursue other business interests''. Are those ''interests'' at GM?
''Mr McEniry is leaving and going on to another thing, but assures us that it's not at GM,'' a spokeswoman for Mitsubishi Australia said. ''He hasn't been approached.''
Lets elect Minux to be the next MD of Holden Australia.
Check out my ride!!!
This frequent changing of the guard can't be good for Holden. There have been some excellent CEO's over recent years, real engineers who understood cars, rather than economists and market-men.
If the replacement is a bean-counter, it could have an adverse affect on the direction Holden takes with new models.
The top brass at GM in years gone by are an entirely different kettle of fish.