General Motors Corp. announces three high-level management changes, including the appointment of Troy Clarke to president of GM North America and GM group vice president.

Clarke, whose new position is effective July 1, currently is president-GM Asia Pacific, a post he has held since 2004.

GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner has been acting president of the struggling GMNA since a shuffle in April 2005 that moved former GMNA President Gary Cowger to the newly created post of global manufacturing and labor. At that time, product czar Bob Lutz was stripped of his GMNA chairman title and given responsibility for GM’s global product development functions.

“Given the challenges we face in North America, it makes sense for me to assume control of GMNA’s day-to-day operations and shorten the lines of communication and decision-making,” Wagoner said at the time.

With the new appointment, Clarke will work closely with Wagoner in executing the GMNA turnaround plan and will oversee GM's largest sales region, the auto maker says.

"This is the right time to turn the region's day-to-day operations over to (Clarke), who has the experience and skills to help lead the GMNA team as it continues this unprecedented restructuring,” Wagoner says in a statement.

“(Clarke) has a track record of success in general management, manufacturing and labor relations in the United States and globally, which will be invaluable in his new assignment," Wagoner says.

Clarke, 51, joined GM in the Pontiac Div. in 1973 and has held several engineering and manufacturing posts. He was named director-manufacturing for General Motors de Mexico S.A. de C.V. in 1997 and promoted to president and managing director in 1998, when he also became a corporate vice president.

Clarke’s appointment comes as GMNA moves on a turnaround plan that includes an early retirement program to decrease fixed labor costs as well as the bankruptcy reorganization of Delphi Corp., GM’s largest supplier. The company is attempting to cut $7 billion in structural costs.

Clarke has an extensive background in labor relations in North America. In 2001, he became vice president-labor relations, advancing to group vice president-manufacturing and labor relations in 2002.

He served as GM's chief negotiator during the 2003 labor negotiations with the United Auto Workers union and likely will be called on again. The current contract with the UAW is set to expire in 2007 and talks are shaping up to be difficult, given GM’s financial woes and stated plans to close plants.

Meanwhile, GM announces Vice Chairman John Devine will retire effective June 1. Devine, 62, last December made public his intention to retire this year.

GM also announces Nick Reilly, president and CEO of GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. in South Korea, will replace Clarke as president-GM Asia Pacific, also effective July 1. Reilly will succeed Clarke as chairman of the GMDAT board of directors.

"(Reilly) has demonstrated his managerial strength, most recently in growing GM Daewoo into a profitable enterprise that has quickly become a key part of our global expansion plans, well in advance of what was generally expected," Wagoner says.

Reilly, 56, has been at GM Daewoo since 2002, when he was named to lead the transition team for the fledgling company that grew out of assets of the former Daewoo Motors Co. Ltd., purchased by GM in 2000.

A GM vice president since 1997, Reilly began his career with the auto maker in 1975 at the former Detroit Diesel Allison Div. in the U.K. From 1978 to 1984, he held assignments in Belgium, the U.S. and Mexico. He returned to the U.K. in 1996 as chairman and managing director of Vauxhall Motors Ltd. before his move to Zurich in 2001 as vice president-sales, marketing and aftersales for GM Europe.

A replacement for Reilly as CEO of GMDAT will be announced later, GM says.