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Former GM China chief leaves SAIC for Chrysler

Former chief of General Motors' China operations Phil Murtaugh has resigned as vice president of GM's joint venture partner SAIC Motor Corp. to take up a post at Chrysler, SAIC said Friday.

Murtaugh, who joined SAIC in June 2006, said he had "accepted an offer from Chrysler Corp. that I think will be a tremendous opportunity for me. At this stage of my career, it is an offer I just cannot turn down."

"This has been a very difficult decision for me," Murtaugh said in a statement released by SAIC.

SAIC applauded Murtaugh's contribution to the Shanghai-based automaker's efforts to build up its own-brand business after nearly a decade of working with GM.

Murtaugh "contributed his rich experience in the auto industry and demonstrated solid capabilities as a professional manager," SAIC said in a separate statement.

Murtaugh did not say what post he would take up at Chrysler, which recently announced a deal with China's biggest independent car company, Chery Automobile Co., to jointly produce and export cars to Western Europe and the United States within 2 1/2 years.

It isn't the first time Murtaugh has made an unexpected move.

Widely credited with helping GM establish a leading presence in the increasingly competitive Chinese market, Murtaugh abruptly left the Detroit-based automaker in 2005 after nearly five years with GM's China Group, citing "personal reasons."

He had spent 32 years with GM, where he played a key role in the launch of Shanghai GM, the company's biggest mainland venture.

Staff at GM's Shanghai office said they had no comment on Murtaugh's departure for Chrysler.

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