Opel Watch: Place Your Bets (By Monday Night)

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

On Monday, July 20, 2009, GM Europe accepts the last and final bids for Opel. Really. Definitely. They mean it. GM will evaluate the bids, choose a favorite, and then go on an arduous show-and-tell tour: Germany’s central government needs to be convinced, the states where Opel has plants need to be convinced, European countries where Opel has plants need to be convinced, the EU Commission needs to give its approval. The US government needs to be consulted. And then it’s up to the trustees to say “Ja” or “Nein.” So what will it be?

According to Der Spiegel, GM appears to be predisposed to recommend – you guessed it – RHJ. RHJ will be a tough sell in Euroland. In a separate article, Der Spiegel writes that RHJ vehemently denies any allegations that they would just collect government money, cut Opel down to size and sell it back to GM.

The German government prefers Magna. In its Monday edition, Der Spiegel will report that Berlin has anointed Magna. That decision fell after a presentation last Friday in Berlin. Despite the fact that RHJ needs €3.8b in government guarantees, compared to the €4.5b Magna/Sperbank need, the Magna proposal was deemed as “more coherent” than that of RHJ, as Der Spiegel will quote an anonymous participant in the meeting.

According to the report, GM promised to signal their choice by the end of this week. If GM insists on RHJ, it will be an uphill battle (except in Detroit and DC.) Berlin will “re-evaluate” their bank guarantees. It will drag on and on. Once the September elections are over, all political leverage will be lost.

If they pick Magna, GM will receive compliments for their wisdom and foresight and the deal will be waved through. To Russia.

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="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jul 18, 2009

    Don't be too sure about natural gas prices (or supplies) getting favorable treatment. Merkel already threw Georgia to the wolves for that, but Russia is still trying to muscle Ukraine back into orbit. With the gas lines going through Ukraine, and Ukraine insisting on independence from Moscow, Germany's/Europe's gas prices and supplies will continue to be uncertain.

  • VLAD VLAD on Jul 18, 2009

    Entweder Nein oder Magna Which is distinctively different from Magna or nein Any deal that does not eliminate GM completetely from the ownership structure should be a no go as long as there is any German taxpayer money on the table.

  • VLAD VLAD on Jul 18, 2009

    Lorenzo Russia is still trying to [s]muscle Ukraine back into orbit[/s] reverse the foreign financed color revolutions

  • Tom Tom on Jul 18, 2009
    With the gas lines going through Ukraine, and Ukraine insisting on independence from Moscow, Germany’s/Europe’s gas prices and supplies will continue to be uncertain. Don't forget the pipeline that is being built through the Baltic sea, directly into Germany. Poland has been up in arms about that for years...