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GM shuffles executive ranks after two exits

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News
Alan Batey

Two top executives at General Motors Co. are leaving the company, setting off the latest executive shuffle for the Detroit automaker.

Alan Batey, executive vice president of North America, plans to retire and Alicia Boler Davis, executive vice president of global manufacturing, plans to leave the company. Both exits are effective April 1.

Batey will be replaced by Barry Engle, currently executive vice president and president of GM International. Engle will report to Mary Barra.

Engle will be succeeded by Julian Blissett, currently executive vice president of GM's SAIC joint venture in China. Blissett previously held a variety of management positions for GM International.

Gerald Johnson, GM's current vice president of North American manufacturing and labor relations, will replace Davis. Johnson will join GM's senior leadership team and report to CEO Mary Barra, GM said in a Thursday statement. GM is not yet announcing a replacement for Johnson, a spokesperson said.

Alicia Boler Davis

The shuffle in the top ranks at GM is the latest round of turnovers, with the manufacturing changes coming just months before the automaker begins renegotiating its national contract with the United Auto Workers. The moves announced Thursday are not part of GM's plan to reduce its executive workforce by 25 percent, an effort which is largely done, a spokesman said. 

Among the other recent departures and changes are former Maven chief Julia Steyn, former GM President Dan Ammann's move to head GM Cruise LLC and former product chief Mark Reuss's ascent to second-in-command.

Gerald Johnson

Barra said in a statement Thursday that Engle, who worked with rival Ford Motor Co. for 13 years before coming to GM in 2015, is the right candidate to replace Batey as the automaker "continues to streamline operations, simplify our systems and refine our global go-to-market strategies." 

Batey, a native of the United Kingdom who came to GM in 1979, has been in his current role leading North America since 2014 and has led Chevrolet's global operations since 2013. His previous roles include U.S. sales and service, marketing and Chevrolet sales and service.

He also held senior management positions across the globe in the U.K., Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Germany, Korea and Australia.

Engle joined GM four years ago as executive vice president of South America. His duties expanded to include all operations outside North America and China in 2017.


Twitter: @NoraNaughton