Now that the no-money Fiatsco is (sort of) done and in the hands of the courts and armies of lawyers (what a reassuring thought), Fiat is fixing the sights of its lupara [see pic above] on another target that carries the ripe fruit of billions of government money: Opel.
“Now we have to concentrate on Opel,” Sergio Marchionne said in an interview with La Stampa. “They are our ideal partners.” (Reassuring thought #2: Chrysler must then be less than ideal . . . .) Reuters reports that “Marchionne coughed throughout the interview and admitted to being tired after months of talks leading up to the Chrysler deal,” giving rise to suspicion that Marchionne had contracted swine flu—an inherent risk when rolling with the pigs. Or it could be something worse than what a dose of Tamiflu could heal:
“We worked day and night, I spat blood,” Marchionne said. According to Bloomberg, Sergio will travel to Berlin on May 4 for talks with the German government “and offer less than €1billion for a stake in Opel.” The officials in Berlin probably will greet him wearing HAZMAT suits. At least he’ll be offering more than for Chrysler. Here, Sergio wanted to invest “not a cent”—which is probably what it’s worth.
Also different than with Chrysler, which nobody wanted, Sergio is facing stiff opposition at Opel. In the forefront: Magna, which appears to be everybody’s favorite son-in-law in Germany. Behind Magna: Russia’s Gaz, which wants to get its hands on Germanski technology for cheap. Or not so cheap given the state of the Russian Ruble.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports today that additional investors from Russia are interested in buying a stake in Opel, and that Magna-cum-Russia could put €5 billion on the table in Berlin. Sergio doesn’t have this kind of money.
But at least he has Italy’s Berlusconi on his side. Italys’s Prime Minister said Fiat’s deal with Chrysler was “absolutely positive” and would help drive the country out of the economic crisis. The Italian country. Speaking of Berlusconi, he claims that he’s the world’s most popular leader, Reuters reports.
That’s relatively humble, because Berlusconi already claimed that he is the Jesus Christ of Italian politics and once said he was second only to Napoleon, except taller. The approval rating of Berlusconi—who happens to control more than 90 percent of Italy’s television—is 75.2 percent, Berlusconi claims. He’s forgetting North Korea’s Dear Leader, who enjoys an approval rating of 100 percent—or else.
Anyway, Marchionne’s approval rating sunk where it hurts most: Financial Times reports that “Fiat’s share price fell 6 percent on Thursday as the deal was being finalized between Detroit and Washington.”