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New GM boss Mary Barra visits lossmaking Opel

David Mchugh, AP Business Writer

RUESSELSHEIM, Germany (AP) -- General Motors' new chief executive, Mary Barra, is turning her attention to the company's lossmaking European division.

Barra, who became CEO two weeks ago, on Monday visited the headquarters of Adam Opel AG, the company's European subsidiary based in Germany. She met with Opel's top managers at headquarters in Ruesselsheim, toured the vehicle development center there and then took a look at the factory where Insignia and Astra models come off the assembly line.

It's familiar turf for Barra, a former car development chief who sits on Opel's board of directors.

Opel lost $200 million in the third quarter and says it only hopes to return to break even by the middle of this decade. Opel and its sister brand Vauxhall saw sales slip by 1.4 percent last year in a sluggish European car market, though market share inched up to 6.8 percent from 6.7 percent. It is closing its plant in Bochum, one of three in Germany, at the end of the year.

Europe's mass-market carmakers are struggling with weak demand as the region recovers slowly from a financial crisis that has pushed many economies into recession.

Opel on Thursday said that GM President Dan Ammann would take over as chair of the Opel board of directors, replacing Steve Girsky. Girsky remains on the GM board of directors.