GM's Opel Decision Dragging On, and On, and …

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

GM and the German government could decide by the end of the week who will take over Opel, Germany’s deputy economics minister Jochen Homann said to Reuters. That’s no improvement.

A few days ago, his colleague Thomas Schäfer had said that “if one were to sit down and concentrate on working them out, a solution could be found in 24 hours.”

Careful with his words, Homann said they “could decide.” He didn’t say they “will decide.”

GM holds 35 percent of Opel, the other 65 percent are in trust to secure the €1.5b bridge loan. Germany is supposed to provide state aid to the tune of €4b, more or less. Both must agree on a buyer. They couldn’t be further apart.

GM’s board met on Monday. Its calls for rapid improvement obviously didn’t include Opel. All Opel received was a milquetoast statement: “GM hopes to conclude its evaluation and make a recommendation to the Opel Trust Board shortly.” The non-operative words are “hopes” and “shortly.” GM doesn’t seem to be in a big hurry as far as Opel is concerned.

In the meantime, the German government is negotiating with both Magna and RHI with the aim of extracting more money. German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said that whoever wants government backing needs to put more cash on the table. That detail isn’t indicative of a swift decision. Homann confirmed that the government expects a deal to be concluded “by autumn.” He carefully omitted to say which autumn.

P.S.: This reporter will be on a flight to the fatherland tomorrow to take care of some hopefully gainful business. Posting frequency will decrease.

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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4 of 6 comments
  • Stunned_BB Stunned_BB on Aug 05, 2009

    When you have more than enough bailout bucks you have all the time in the world to work out your restructuring. Watch for other unintended consequences to the "quick rinse" BK of GM. As well documented on this site, the more things change the more they stay the same!

  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Aug 05, 2009

    Forgive me but I've found the ancient Opel's posted on this site just as alluring as 1950s American cars. I know this would be heresy to some on this site but I'd love to hot rod one!

  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Aug 05, 2009

    Maybe the new ones would sell better if they offered them with a hot-rod option!

  • Venator Venator on Aug 05, 2009

    educatordan, 1950s Opels looked like scaled-down Buicks, they were possibly the best-looking Opels ever (in my eyes, anyway). In the 1960s they looked more like Chevrolets, but not the Corvair, unfortunately, they looked more like they were "inspired" by the styling of the Chevy II. Period "appliance" look, more like.