Whitacre is a completely different type of manager than what you saw at GM in the past. It’s refreshing to talk to someone that gained his experience outside of the company. He truly wants our cooperation, he doesn’t want any confrontation at all. Just the opposite, he says that only together can we make GM, Opel and Vauxhall successful.
Opel union boss Klaus Franz expresses sudden enthusiasm for working with GM’s new leadership. And that’s a hell of a turnaround from his previous opinions on GM management, including (but not limited to) his assesment that “GM does not enjoy any credibility or faith in the eyes of the public or the (German) government.”
Opel’s union boss and chief thorn-in-the-side for GM’s attempt at regaining control of its European division, Klaus Franz, recently met with CEO Fritz Henderson and is telling German media that “Henderson agrees that Opel should be led back to its traditional strengths in Europe, with a high level of independence and autonomy within the GM organization.” But Franz is looking for more than kind words from Fritz, namely a future Opel share offering. “This way, GM can prove that it’s serious about Opel’s independence,” Franz tells RTL. Franz and Opel’s employees want a complete business plan along the lines of the one they’ve been negotiating for the past year and a half. Meanwhile, GM has also said that it will pay back the remaining €600m ($900m) worth of German government’s bridge loans by the end of the month. Between the Moody’s report that GM needs $8.5b to turn Opel around and the division’s continued desire for independence, a solution to the situation won’t be easy or cheap. It may be in GM’s strategic interests to keep Opel under its wing, but to what extent and at what cost?