Magna CEO: Change Bankruptcy Laws to Favor Big 2.8

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
magna ceo change bankruptcy laws to favor big 2 8

I don't pretend to know the inside dope about the U.S. car industry. O.K. I do. But there are times when the suits' statements leave me wondering if I inhabit the same universe of cause and effect as these highly paid execs. To wit: the co-CEO of Canadian-based parts maker Magna stood up in front of the Society of Automotive Engineers and told them that the feds they should change U.S. bankruptcy laws so failing automotive suppliers can't get domestic automakers by the short and curlies. True story. Automotive News [sub] reports that Don Walker doesn't want Plastech-type failure to end up "crippling the car companies." As Justin says, that's batshit crazy. First, why should we re-write federal law for The Big 2.8? Second, why would The Society of Automotive Engineers care about bankruptcy law? It gets weirder. "Walker said the growing industry pressure has caused automakers to be more cautious in selecting suppliers. The car companies are more leery of awarding contracts to companies without a strong balance sheet or without a strong business model." So that would favor suppliers like… Magna. I thought I was wise to the ways of man. Can someone please explain this to me?

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  • Johnny ro Johnny ro on Apr 15, 2008

    Plastech files for bankruptcy protection, and to protect Plastech lenders, Plastech customer assets are frozen. Courts then commence glacial progress to resolution. Production stops. Everyone else has to keep paying bills without moving any product. Collapse. So. Magna is hit on both sides of this problem, they support lower tier, probably by lending to them, and they in turn get hammered by detroit with downward spiraling prices and orders. and slowed payments. This is when there is no bankruptcy. When there is, they get hit with write down of the amounts due them by lower tier, plus orders from upper tier snap to zero for affected product lines and then we stretch out collections from upper tier on past product. The real problem is decades of bad product coming out of detroit. Reminds me of movie "on the beach" where doctor tells first dying evacuee that he is suffering from death, and the first to go; not everyone dies all at once at end of world. Magna will be among the last to go, they are strong, with worldwide ops. Plastech was among first, relying on Chrysler sales.

  • Orian Orian on Apr 15, 2008

    I guess all you really have to do is look at Toyota and Honda and the way they deal with their suppliers - they don't make their suppliers adversaries. They work with them to deliver a product and co-exist. Common sense really, but then again common sense isn't common anymore.

  • Juniper Juniper on Apr 15, 2008

    Orian Toyota and Honda, or their banks, own majority interest in their major suppliers and have imported many of them here.

  • Bunkie Bunkie on Apr 15, 2008

    Orian- It's a mistake to assume that everything is hunky-dory between Japanese companies and their suppliers. In the Keiretsu structure, suppliers, while "independent" companies are bound to the banking part of the keiretsu and the customer. They can't venture outside of the keiretsu pyramid without risking both a loss of credit and all their customers. Product design and cost are under the constant eye of the customer with constant pressure to improve quality and lower costs. As a result, the pressure is intense and profit margins are often exceptionally small. It's actually a model of a corporate feudal system. In fact, the current state of the relationship between domestic suppliers and the big 2.8 are the result of an inperfect attempt to replicate the keiretsu model. It has failed because the big 2.8 have focused primarily upon costs to the point of failing to consider the risks of having mission-critical suppliers go belly-up. Life is good for Honda and Toyota and as a result, their suppliers are doing okay. But it's not too much of a stretch to imagine Toyota and Honda facing tougher times ahead under which their suppliers could be facing bankuptcy as well.