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GM Southeast Asia president to leave at end of month

Martin Apfel, president of General Motors' Thailand/Southeast Asia operations, poses after a news conference at a hotel in Bangkok July 29,
Martin Apfel, president of General Motors' Thailand/Southeast Asia operations, poses after a news conference at a hotel in Bangkok July 29,

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co has announced that its president of GM Southeast Asia, GM Thailand and Chevrolet sales in Thailand will leave the automaker at the end of the month to pursue other interests.

Martin Apfel, 53, had been with the U.S. automaker since 1989. His Asia roles will be filled by two executives until a permanent successor is named, GM said on Wednesday.

Apfel is the second high-level overseas GM executive to leave in the last few weeks. GM said on June 21 that its Chevrolet and Cadillac sales chief in Europe, Susan Docherty, will exit on September 30 after 27 years with the automaker.

GM has been seeking to shore up sales of its Chevrolet brand outside the United States. The automaker on June 25 named its U.S. sales chief, Alan Batey, to lead global Chevrolet, which accounts for more than half of GM's worldwide sales.

GM has been selling cars in Southeast Asia since before World War Two, but it remains a relatively small player. Emerging markets make up half of the vehicles sold worldwide and industry estimates project that figure at two-thirds by 2020.

Global automakers including GM perceive Southeast Asian markets including Indonesia as possible growth engines. At present, GM has less than 1 percent market share in Indonesia, but Chief Executive Dan Akerson has said he thinks the automaker could grab a 7 to 10 percent share of that market.

In Thailand, the top five automakers are all Japanese.

Jim DeLuca, vice president of manufacturing for GM's international operations, will fill part of Apfel's role. Mark Barnes, sales and marketing vice president for GM's international operations and chief country operations officer for Africa and Australia, will oversee sales and marketing in Southeast Asia for now, GM said.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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