GM Creates South American Division

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors Co. has carved up its international operations to create a unit that will serve South America where it controls about 20 percent of the market.

The company said in a statement Tuesday that GM South America will be based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and will handle sales and manufacturing in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

GM appointed Jaime Ardila as president of the new region. He will report to Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre.

Ardila had been in charge of the company's Mercosur operations which include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.

The new region will allow GM's international operations unit to concentrate on growing markets including Asia, Russia, Australia and other countries, the company's statement said.

Recently GM has had only three regional units -- North America, Europe and International Operations. Splitting off a fourth unit structures the company similar to what it was before last year's stay in bankruptcy court. At that time, GM had four units: Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America and Latin America-Middle East.

In his new post, Ardila will join the company's executive committee.

A separate South America region is needed to handle rising customer demand, GM's statement said.

GM has sold nearly 400,000 vehicles in South America during the first five months of the year.

The South American unit employs about 29,000 people in manufacturing, sales and product design and engineering.

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