GM VP Defects to Russia

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Snickers in Detroit, horrors in Rüsselsheim: Suddenly departed Government Motors purchasing chief Bo Andersson is taking a job in Russia. He will be Putin charge as chairman of Russian automaker Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, better known as hapless GAZ.

Along with Russia’s Sberbank and Canadian Magna, GAZ wants to take over GM’s Opel. After departing GM to the cheers of the oppressed suppliers, Andersson immediately pitched his tent in Russia where he works as consultant for the GAZ board and as an adviser to oligarch Oleg Deripaska, as Automotive News [sub] reports. The cost cutter’s arrival in Russia will horrify Opel as Germany awakes to the news. It may be yet another nail in the coffin of the Opel/Magna/Sperbank/GAZ/GM/Germany/Russia group grope. In recent elections, Germany had voted for taking failed companies off life support.

History buffs or Wikipedia readers will remember that after GAZ was founded in 1929 with the help of Ford, “many American engineers and skilled auto workers moved to the Soviet Union to work at GAZ. Hundreds of American workers stayed on after the plant’s completion in 1932, often with their families. They had to deliver their American passports and within a few years became victims of Stalin’s Great Terror, either shot or exiled to Soviet gulags.”

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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  • Gogogodzilla Gogogodzilla on Jun 16, 2009

    To Kaleun: Somehow... ...this just seems fitting. Kaleun, your post hit it spot-on.

  • ChuckR ChuckR on Jun 16, 2009

    great comment, kaleun re: the sad fate of American workers at GAZ in the 1930's. That's not what the New York Times' Putlizer Prize winning reporter, Walter Duranty, was telling the US part of the world about dear comrade Steel's activities.

  • Pleiter Pleiter on Jun 16, 2009

    Tricky Dicky and Bertell, The question was: what's the risk to Opel ? Well, did anyone check Bo's pockets as he was shown the door ? Does anyone remember the Ignacio Lopez fiasco ? Except now, instead of boxes or paper, it's a thumb drive, and a small one at that. And if I right, it will be GM both times. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  • Tricky Dicky Tricky Dicky on Jun 19, 2009

    Pleiter - I do remember the Lopez fiasco - that was the one involving VW... but I'm still not sure why GM would be worried about Andersson taking IP away with him because it's not really like he's swapping sides so much. The biggest gainers will be the Russians, who will surely want to find out what western companies are paying for parts. First they will want to buy in, then they will want to clean up. I hope Bertel is right and that the German public allows an 'Arcandor' scenario to work out.