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SAIC Motor hires former GM head

BEIJING - SAIC Motor Corporation, a Chinese partner of General Motors Corporation, has hired the former head of the US carmaker's China unit, as it prepares to compete with GM and other automakers by building its own brand of cars.

Philip Murtaugh, 51, who worked with SAIC for nine years while at GM, was named executive vice-president of the Chinese automaker, effective from June 19, the Shanghai-based SAIC said in a statement. Murtaugh will be in charge of SAIC's overseas manufacturing and operations.

SAIC, which has ventures with GM and Volkswagen AG, is spending 13.7 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion) to build up to 300,000 passenger cars annually under its own brand by 2010.

Murtaugh's experience in company management and overseas markets may help with SAIC's expansion in China and its export sales. "I believe that Murtaugh will be able to bring into play his specialty at SAIC Motor and contribute to improving the global operation capabilities of the company," Hu Maoyuan, chairman of SAIC Motor, said in the statement.

Murtaugh resigned as chairman of GM China for undisclosed "personal reasons" in March 2005 after less than five years in the job, ending a 32-year career with the Detroit-based carmaker. He led negotiations with SAIC in 1996 to set up GM's first China venture.

By the time he left in 2005, Shanghai General Motors Co, in which SAIC owns a 30% stake, was China's most profitable automaker with 10% of the country's vehicle market.

SAIC, China's biggest automaker, is developing its own brand of cars in line with the government's policy of encouraging automakers to move away from being just low-cost assemblers. The company aims to sell more than 45,000 of its own-brand vehicles in overseas markets by 2010, it said in April.

(Asia Pulse/XIC)
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