General Motors Co. taps international markets veteran Nick Reilly to oversee the auto maker’s Adam Opel GmbH unit as it conducts an external search for a new leader.

Reilly will retain overall direction of GM International Operations based in Shanghai, China, GM says, but everyday management of the sprawling group will be left to managers of individual countries while he leads Europe.

He succeeds Carl-Peter Forster, who led Opel in Europe for most of the last decade before stepping down last week, reportedly to take a position with Tata Motors Ltd.’s Jaguar division.

Reilly brings a measure of experience to Opel and its U.K. sister brand Vauxhall. He bounced between management positions with Vauxhall and GM Europe headquarters in Zurich for more than 25 years before taking on the formation of GM Daewoo in 2002.

“With his deep experience with the Opel and Vauxhall brands, Nick is well suited to lead this transition and to work toward the earliest possible normalization of the business,” GM President and CEO Fritz Henderson says in a statement.

A native of the U.K., Reilly became GM executive vice president and president of GMIO in July, shortly after the auto maker exited bankruptcy in the U.S. and restructured its management.

GM’s board decided last week to scuttle a deal with Canadian parts supplier Magna International Inc. and Russian investment partner OAO Sberbank that would have given them an equal share of 55% of Opel. GM was to retain 35% and a 10% share was slated for Opel employees.

GM’s decision, coming after long, contentious negotiations to extricate Opel from its longtime parent, was met with severe criticism from Opel employees and the German government. Henderson has said relations with Opel will require some fence-mending and that task looms large for the unit’s permanent CEO.

GM shifts Opel under Reilly a day after Henderson travels to Germany to discuss Opel’s restructuring with workers, the government and other interested parties.

GM says Hans Demant, vice president-engineering at GM Europe and managing director-Opel, retains his role as leader of the Opel management board and will work with Reilly on the transition.