By on November 13, 2009

The Opel/GM saga has more twists than New York’s Peppermint Lounge. Yesterday, we reported that GM’s Smith & Reilly went to Berlin to beg money from German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle. They received the cold shoulder.

Like good salesmen, they didn’t take no for an answer.

Yesterday, a spokesperson of GM said (apparently, in German…): “Our company is working under the assumption that the support that was promised by the governments for the plan worked out with Magna basically is also negotiable under the new circumstances, because the GM plan follows a similar approach.”

Then in the evening, Bruederle said on national TV that GM wants to restructure Opel all on their own, without government money, and that would be “very good news” to the Minister. He even asked for confirmation from GM, and received it. For him, the explosive Opel topic would be “defused” now. He apparently is glad the hand grenade has been removed from his lap. Until GM does the Twist again.

Update: And they sure did. Reuters just put on  the wire that “General Motors reiterated on Friday it wanted state aid to help restructure European arm Opel after Germany’s economics minister said the carmaker would not ask European taxpayers for help.”

Opel labor leader Klaus Franz said today: “”It’s chaos-days at GM. It’s worse than the Bermuda Triangle. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board doesn’t know what the CEO is doing.”

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9 Comments on “GM/Opel: German Government Money? Us? What For? On Second Thought …...”

  • avatar

    From Rediff:

    “US automaker General Motors’ chief executive has apologised (in Germany)for the company’s handling of the failed sale of its subsidiary Opel to Canadian manufacturer Magna and Russian investment bank Sperbank.

    GM CEO Fritz Henderson expressed “deep regret” for shocking the nation and provoking outrage among government leaders, trade unions and Opel workers by an unexpected announcement last week to cancel the deal and instead to keep Germany’s second largest car manufacturer under its fold.

    “It was not our intention to surprise anybody, although now we know that we have done that. We deeply regret it,” he said in a German television interview.

    His comments came after the German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply criticised the company for cancelling the sale, which was supported by Germany’s government as the best option for saving a major part of around 25,000 jobs in the country.

    “For months, General Motors was not even in a position to nearly fulfil its responsibility towards Opel,” Merkel said in her first comment on the aborted deal yesterday in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

    “I extremely regret the decision by General Motors,” the chancellor said.

    The proposed sale of Opel to Magna was preferred by the German government because Magna had promised to keep all four production locations in this country and to lay off a maximum of only 2,600 German workers.

    The German federal government and state governments paid Opel a bridging loan of 1.5 billion Euros in May when it looked certain that Magna would buy the company.

    Merkel demanded from GM leadership a “concrete solution” which will secure Opel’s jobs, know-how and production locations in Germany. “Such a solution can function only when the GM finances a major part of Opel’s restructuring with its own resources,” she said.”

    And the swashbuckling Ed Whitacre, from the Freep: ”

    More than four months on the job as General Motors’ chairman, Ed Whitacre has sent several clear signals about who is in charge: Ed Whitacre.

    The board, under Whitacre’s direction, last week undid the deal crafted under Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson to sell Germany-based Opel.”

    It’s Whitacre who should therefore be over in Germany mending fences. What a twit.

  • avatar

    Saying no repeatedly to sales types can be fun, especially if they are from GM, because they have repeatedly earned disdain. Watch ’em twist in the wind.
    – Sorry, you are GM, not an acceptable borrower and/or recipient of aid. Why? Simple. You have proven to be ineffective and can’t be trusted.
    I still think Magna and its partner will get Opel, however for a much discounted price and via European bankruptcy courts.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Why anyone would want to get into a deal with Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska is a mystery to me. Money, I guess.

  • avatar

    ¡Que descaro! *facepalm* *rolleyes*

  • avatar

    Chubby Checker is the definition of cool.

  • avatar

    Yup, Bertel, and now this from
    “Whitacre told the Kolnische Rundschau, ‘I believe that we really don’t need any money from the German government. If (German Chancellor) Ms Merkel does not want to make anything available, then we will just pay for it ourselves.’
    ‘Maybe this news will make your chancellor happy,’ he added.
    However, GM chief executive Fritz Henderson is believed to be seeking German government aid, similar to the offered credit by Berlin to a potential buyer for Opel.
    Whitacre also distanced himself from Henderson’s apology earlier this week for the way GM suddenly announced that it would not sell Opel as planned to Austrian parts manufacturer Magna and a Russian bank.
    ‘I do not agree at all with Henderson on this. The decision-making process may well have caused some confusion, but there is nothing to reproach us for,’ Whitacre, a former AT&T executive and US President Barack Obama’s appointee to the board of GM, said.”
    Boy, Whitacre really doesn’t get it. He disagrees with Henderson, who seems to have some political savvy, and doesn’t think springing a surprise on a national government merits an apology.   And him a nationalized company chairman of the board. Now he gets the US  government to agree to overpay executives — will they be as clueless as he apparently is? Using our taxpayer money?
    Stay tuned for the next installment of how not to do things. Wagoner’s hubris had nothing on this man. And the whole thing shows how hopeless the Obama government is, not knowing or caring what their nationalized companies are up to.

  • avatar

    If Germany doesn’t play ball, they are going to lose more jobs than they have to.  So they will either pay to keep the jobs, or they will pay for unemployment.  If Germany didn’t try to bully GM into picking the buyer that Germany wanted, and not a buyer that was necessarily good for Opel, they wouldn’t be in this situation.

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