Commentaries

Now raising intellectual capital

Will GM pick a German to run GM Europe?

Photo

OPEL/It looks as though General Motors will soon be looking for a new executive to run GM Europe, which includes its troubled Opel unit.

The U.S. carmaker needs someone with credibility within Germany as well as within the car industry if it replaces GM Europe head Carl-Peter Forster.

There are a few German industry heavyweights about who could do the job.

How about former Continental CEO Manfred Wennemer, who knows a lot about tyres and auto parts? Or Porsche’s former boss and golden-boy Wendelin Wiedeking? Or Daimler’s Wolfgang Bernhardt, who recently took over running the Mercedes-Benz van unit?

All have the right credentials, although Wiederking may have too much baggage (and too much money after his pay-off from Porsche to want to do the job).

Lower Opel costs to help government aid

General Motors’ decision to scrap the sale of Opel rests on the carmaker’s calculation that the hole in its European unit’s finances is not as deep as previously feared.

Governments should welcome the lower demands on taxpayers with open arms. But there is still some horse trading to be done to get everyone on board. 

from Rolfe Winkler:

Sheila throws GMAC a bone

GMAC sold more FDIC-backed debt today... (Reuters)

General Motors Acceptance Corp on Wednesday sold $2.9 billion in three-year government-guaranteed notes, according to a market source familiar with the sale. The 1.75 percent notes were priced at 99.991 to yield 1.753 percent, or 31.6 basis points over comparable U.S. Treasuries.

The notes are guaranteed under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp's temporary liquidity guarantee program.

Commercial real estate death watch – Capmark

What do you get when you put a U.S. automaker, a leveraged buyout and commercial real estate together – a soon-to-be bankrupt company. Caroline Humer of Reuters reports that that Capmark – formerly the commercial real estate business of GM financing arm GMAC – is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, with the final blow coming possibly by the end of next week?

The company, which owns a bank that will continue to operate while it is in court, is in negotiations with lenders, bondholders and the Federal Deposit Insurance Company that will result in a filing by the end of October at the latest, the source said.

Germany will have to change Opel deal after election

Photo

opelanerIt looks increasingly clear that Germany will have to change its deal to aid carmaker Opel once Sunday’s general election is out of the way.

The European Commission has signaled to Berlin that promising 4.5 billion euros in loan guarantees to only one of the two bidders for General Motors’ European arm to preserve all four German production sites and most Opel jobs in Germany may breach EU rules on state aid to industry. EU regulators want to know why Chancellor Angela Merkel and four German states offered the money to back car parts maker Magna’s bid but not for financial investor RHJ International’s, and on what conditions. 

China picks European cars off scrapheap

Photo

GERMANY/Chinese carmakers are seeking to step into the gaps left by U.S. companies in Europe — but while acquisitions may give them access to badly-needed technical know-how, global brands and exposure to new markets, the question is whether they have learnt from past failures.

With China now the world’s largest car market, it’s no surprise that Chinese carmakers — which have few if any really solid brands within their home market — want to start making more of a mark.

Can Magna keep its model juggling act with Opel?

Photo

OPEL/Cries from Volkswagen about pulling its business from Magna if the Canadian car parts maker ended up owning a stake in GM’s former European unit Opel ring somewhat hollow given the success Magna has had in juggling its customers’ different needs so far.

Even so, Magna is trying hard to keep its customers — which also include Toyota, Ford and BMW — happy by vowing to ringfence Opel from the rest of its business now it has won the long battle to buy GM’s former European unit.

Not the final word in GM’s Magnum Opel

Photo

GM-OPEL/So German Chancellor Angela Merkel has got her way. After months of pressure from the German government, General Motors has finally caved in and agreed to sell a majority stake in Opel to Canadian car parts maker Magna and Russian backer Sberbank.

It isn’t all over yet — GM is still attaching conditions to the sale of a 55 percent stake in “new” Opel — but the timing of the announcement and the apparently good news for Opel’s 25,000 German employees will be music to Merkel’s ears with just over two weeks to go before a Sept 27. general election.

Saab and Volvo – made in China?

Photo

SWEDEN/At this rate it might not be long before Sweden’s once mighty Volvo and Saab car marques come with “Made in China” stamped on the chassis.

After failing in the auction of Opel, Beijing Automotive Industry Holding (BAIC) is set to take a minority stake in supercar maker Koenigsegg, which is bidding to take over all of GM’s Saab. Meanwhile, Geely Automotive’s parent company Geely Holding Group Co plans to bid for Ford’s Volvo.

Saab to Koenigsegg – another go slow GM sale

Photo

AUTOS SWEDEN KOENIGSEGGGeneral Motors doesn’t do deals in a hurry — at least when it is selling.

With the Opel sale grinding along, the U.S. automaker is also in the process of offloading its Saab brand to luxury sportscar maker Koenigsegg.

  •