By on December 20, 2012


GM’s Opel took another step towards a possible bankruptcy. Opel sold six European facilities to the American mother , says the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  The real estate includes an engine plant in Hungary, a development center in Turin, Italy, a factory in Gliwice, Poland, a transmission plant in Austria, and other “activities” in the UK and Russia, the paper says. The FAZ received a “no comment” from Opel, but no denial. Opel is not rolling in money, despite the sale.

Opel owes GM some 2.5 billion EUR ($3.31 billion) on a note. The note is due end of 2014. Now, the note is extended for another two years, writes the paper. Of course, GM could have put a little more faith into Opel and could have simply extended the loan. Then, money and factories would have been gone during a bankruptcy.

This way, Opel is shedding assets, and the assets go to GM. Only the plants in Germany, the factory in Zaragoza, Spain, and Ellesmere Port, UK, are still owned by Opel. Says the FAZ:

“The transaction could be in preparation for an unlikely, but theoretically not impossible collapse of Opel. In case of an insolvency, GM would retain parts of the most important manufacturing sites in Europe.”

GM took the best parts of Opel. Gliwice is a modern plant, built in 1998. The Rüsselsheim plant is ancient. The Bochum plant was built in 1962, Ellesmere Port in the same year.

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20 Comments on “Opel: The Factories Are Leaving The Sinking Ship...”

  • avatar

    Sounds like sensible forward planning for once.

  • avatar

    Shades of old GM and new GM? I guess once you’ve done it, it’s easy to repeat. GM has never been guilty of an excess of innovation.

  • avatar

    So remind/explain to me again why it was necs to kill Saab, GMs pretty much worldwide recognized brand, the company with probably MORE “innovation” (but NO marketing, cuz of Caddy? the “NEW” standard of the world…REALLY????) than the rest of GM combined? And now it turns out Opel/Vauxhall is the REAL relic? Oh, and now BMW thinks theyre going to make front-drive cars??? REALLY???? How long have I been out?

    • 0 avatar

      Because Saab sold like 100,000 units in a good year. It was a negligible brand, even in Europe, it’s market share was virtually nothing. Saab had also not turned a real profit since sometime in the 1990s, and had almost no independent R&D capabilities and only one manufacturing plant. If GM was going to cut anything, that was a really easy place to start. Saab added nothing to the bottom line and had no unique capabilities or specialties that could be of use to other divisions.

  • avatar

    I don’t know if we should assume that Opel is going bankrupt by these moves. Opel has to many factories and Chevy doesn’t have enough manufacturing in Europe. Now they do.

  • avatar

    Neighbor drives a Prius. Told her that Prius was displaced as car with greatest customer satisfaction by US version of Opel Ampera.

    She said something like “I would never buy an Opel.”

    I think this is why Opel is a dead brand rolling. Despite good product, it can’t shake its Hutablage reputation.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d say that Audi had the same “Hutablage” problem in the 70’s… Now they seem to have reached the other extreme, the one previously reserved for BMW drivers. No offense intended to anyone, just commenting on stereotypes. Opel’s biggest problems going forward are that their corporate parent A) doesn’t have the deep pockets needed and B) doesn’t seem to have the will to keep pushing…

  • avatar

    Can somebody explain the corporate relationship between GM and Opel? I though Opel was part of GM. How can GM lend money to and buy facilities from its own division? And what was GM, bailed out by US taxpayers, doing lending money to Opel to create jobs in Germany?

    • 0 avatar

      Opel isn’t a division, it’s a wholly owned subsidiary, which means it’s a totally separate entity whose shares happen to be entirely owned by GM. GM can’t legally just move money around to/from Opel without recognizing both ends of the transaction on Opel and GM’s books.

      Also, I believe the whole point of the bailout was to make GM a viable company. I really don’t see how that’s possible, unless they are able to compete effectively in all major global markets. GM has to get it’s financial house in order in Europe in order to truly survive and prosper long-term. A good way to totally undo the taxpayer funded bailout and put GM back into insolvency would be to prevent them from doing what they need to do to fix Opel.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not only the US government giving GM money. The German state has been discussing giving Opel money for the past two years. But now it seems they have decided against it.

      It puzzles me how a car brand can have a bad reputation for so long. I think here it started because Opel cars rusted a lot. A problem that has been fixed from what I know. Still, people shy away when they hear Opel, just like Robert.Walter’s neighbor. Thanks for using “Hutablage”, by the way. Awesome term!

      So maybe it is time to let Opel die and use the plants and workforce for a new project?

  • avatar

    seen one BK set up you’ve seen ’em all.

  • avatar

    These factories and companies get shifted around a bit: Opel only owned them since 2009, GM moved them to Opel before the bail out.

  • avatar

    The Bochum plant was built in 1962, but in 1999 it was revamped after a 1.7bn Eur investment. I think that’s what actually matters, not the actual age of the site.

  • avatar

    Opel is a 100% owned subsidiary of GM. This is simple internal accounting with no external implications. Wonder why Mr.Schmitt deduces a possible pre-bankruptcy move from this? Perhaps a wishfull thinking considering his anti-GM / Opel bias

  • avatar

    I’m detecting a pattern here. The GM CEO and Board finally has the balls to do face-off with the belligerent CAW & Euro unions. And to that I say: Good for them. While I do not disagree with all the union positions, their “let’s party like it’s 1969” attitude needs a long-overdue adjustment. While growing up in Michigan decades ago, the ‘teenage me’ thought the union’s demands were ridiculous. For those “terrible jobs and working conditions” they would go on regularly go on strike for, hurting my town, 30,000 people would line up for 100 openings.

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