German Chancellor: China Still in the Hunt for Opel

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

The German government is sending strong signals to GM to move on the Opel deal with Magna — or else. Their message: “Get on with it, or Opel will be Chinese.”

Last night, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on German TV that a Chinese investor is still interested in Opel. She didn’t mention BAIC, but she didn’t have to. The day before, her Economy Minister Karl-Theodor von und zu Guttenberg had said that there are still other interested parties, “BAIC for example.”

According to Automobilwoche [sub], Merkel complained that there still is only a letter of intent between GM and Magna, and no clear progress. Negotiations with government-owned GM appear to be bogged down. On May 30, exhausted politicians had announced that a deal had been reached between GM, Magna, Russia’s Sberbank, and the German government. Berlin agreed to underwrite a loan guarantee of €1.5 billion. After the deal, Germany was asked for more money, but they refused.

Fiat is also still interested in Opel, and hoping for a breakdown of the negotiations.

The already highly political matter has become even more political. Germany’s SPD party championed the Magna deal against the reservations of Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a member of Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc.

Last weekend, the SPD collapsed in the European Parliament vote. The CDU/CSU won almost twice the SPD vote. This is regarded as a test for the all-important German national elections in September.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Bevo Bevo on Jun 12, 2009

    I understand why the Russians and the Chinese want to buy Opel. I understand why Magna should not buy Opel (probably because they have an army of MBAs that has told them this purchase makes lots of sense). I do not understand why GM is getting rid of Opel. It strikes me as short sighted and dumb.

  • Twotone Twotone on Jun 12, 2009

    Will they get Opel's three-day return privilege?

  • George B George B on Jun 12, 2009

    Imagine Opel designed cars built in China. Discarded "Bad GM" could outperform "good GM".