Harris named new Magna chairman


Mike Harris has been named the new chairman of Magna International as company founder Frank Stronach says he will remain on as honourary chairman.

The former Ontario premier has worked as a director for the auto parts giant since 2003.

The move comes amid criticism Harris received after supporting a move to scrap a “dual-class share structure” the Canadian Press said gave the Stronach family “voting control” over the company.

According to previous reports, two firms had even suggested that shareholders force Harris out during an annual meeting in early May.

News of the Harris appointment comes after Cosma International, an operating unit of Magna announced it had established a joint venture in China with Guangzhou Automobile Group Component Co., Ltd.

The new joint venture, named Changsha Cosma Automotive, will be located in Changsha City, Hunan Province, China. The JV partners plan to establish a manufacturing facility there that will employ 500 to 600 people at full capacity and will produce major body and chassis components and structural assemblies.

Construction of the facility, which will be one of the largest body stamping and assembly plants in the area, will begin in 2011 with start of production targeted for 2012. The first products to be manufactured at the facility will be for a GAC-Fiat vehicle program.

Magna’s first quarter sales of  $7.2 billion marked an increase of 34 per cent from the first quarter of 2010.

North American, European and global production sales, complete vehicle assembly sales and tooling and other sales all increased in the first quarter of 2011 relative to the comparable quarter in 2010.

Complete vehicle assembly sales increased 51 per cent for the parts maker to $674 million for the first quarter of 2011 compared to $446 million for the first quarter of 2010, while complete vehicle assembly volumes increased 85 per cent to approximately 33,000 units.

Magna has more than 102,000 employees in 263 manufacturing operations and 84 product development, engineering and sales centers in 26 countries.

- With files from The Canadian Press