Opel chief Carl-Peter Forster is leaving the company after the surprise decision by GM's board this week to block the sale to a Magna-led consortium, Spiegel Online reported on Friday.

Forster was widely expected to run an independent Opel under jilted suitor Magna , and his departure would mark the first high-profile manager exit as a result of the failed deal that has triggered a storm of outrage in Germany.

GM planned to replace him with Nick Reilly, the head of its international operations, Spiegel Online reported, adding the choice was a further provocation to an already angry Opel workforce.

Reuters noted that Reilly heads the Chevrolet brand, which has long been favoured in Detroit's growth plans at the expense of an Opel strategy designed to keep it within the confines of the European market.

Forster, a former BMW executive and son of a German diplomat, who speaks perfect English, had strained ties with Detroit after speaking out in favour of the Magna deal.

A GM Europe spokeswoman declined to comment on the report while Opel said Forster was still chairman and an announcement would be made should there be changes.