General Motors named Nick Reilly, head of the U.S. carmaker's international operations, as interim head of its European business while it searches for a new chief executive for the Opel unit.

Here are five facts about Reilly:

* Based in Shanghai, the Briton is widely credited with whipping GM operations in Asia into shape.

* During his tenure at South Korea's GM Daewoo, the company's sales jumped more than fivefold and it returned to profits. He rehired more than 1,600 employees out of the 1,725 shed when the company was in trouble. The unionised workers of GM Daewoo gave him a plaque of thanks with a phrase We will always remember you.

* The Cambridge University graduate was named a Commander of the British Empire in 2000 in recognition of his contributions to the British automotive industry.

* Reilly has worked for GM since 1975, including stints as head of the Vauxhall brand in Britain, head of sales and marketing for GM Europe and chairman of both GM Daewoo Auto and Technology Co and Shanghai GM.

* He once broke his leg playing soccer with employees.

(Reporting by Cheon Jong-woo and Michael Shields; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)