Opel Watch: The Dark Horse From Beijing

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
opel watch the dark horse from beijing
Today is—how do they put it at AA?—the first day of the rest of the life of Opel. Or not, as the saying goes around here. Today, everybody who has anything to say about Opel’s fate will get together in Berlin. The papers that will take away GM’s daughter Opel and make it a child of the state and parties yet undecided are already written up and are waiting for the signatures, says Die Welt. Klaus Franz, head of the Opel workers council has seen the paperwork, “and it looks good, everything is going in the right direction,” Franz said.Present at the meeting will be Chancellor Angela Merkel, Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg, the premiers of the four states that are home to Opel factories, GM Europe chief Carl-Peter Forster, someone from RenCen, along with an anonymous representative of GM’s owner, the US government. Principals only. They will quiz the managers of the companies interested in Opel: Fiat, Magna, Richwood. The one with the most points wins.Again, or not . . .Von und zu Guttenberg officially is keeping “all options open”—including an “orderly” insolvency. A team of experts is imploring their masters not to make any rash decisions. The experts found glaring holes in the proposals of all three suitors, especially in the favored Magna plan, says Das Handelsblatt. On hearing that, Frau Merkel picked up the phone and called Tovarich Putin, suggesting that he cough up extra rubles. According to the Handelsblatt, Putin’s posture was “non-committal.”So it comes to pass that there is now officially a fourth suitor, a dark horse that rode in all the way from China: As previously reported in TTAC, it is Beijing Auto. And it’s no longer an idle rumor. Automobilwoche [sub] says that BAIC has made an official offer, and has been anointed as a fourth bidder in Berlin.The Chinese had the right things to say. They would not close any factories in Germany, and would not make any workers redundant, guaranteed—at least not for the next two years. That should please the premiers and the unions. Even more music for Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg’s ears: The Chinese need much less in the way of government loan guarantees.GM doesn’t like BAIC. No wonder, GM is in bed with SAIC in China, and BAIC would upset the Chinese applecart. Investment bankers Automobilwoche talked to are worried that BAIC might be too successful with Opel: “They don’t want synergies, they want volume. There is no Opel in China at the moment. They could produce 500,000 Opels in a heartbeat,” said the horrified sources.But maybe, the China card is only being played to make Magna and Fiat up the ante. “Don’t come up with more money, and we either close Opel down, or we’ll give it to the Chinese.”Who knows. Soon we shall.
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  • Stingray Stingray on May 27, 2009

    =D But maybe, the China card is only being played to make Magna and Fiat up the ante. “Don’t come up with more money, and we either close Opel down, or we’ll give it to the Chinese.” Who knows. Soon we shall.

  • MikeInCanada MikeInCanada on May 27, 2009

    I agree - the Chinese are just the spoilers to the only political 'acceptable' bids from Fiat and Magna. So why would they do this? At best they could actually win and at least they get to raise the buy in price for the eventual winners and saddle a competitor with higher costs.

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