GM Tries To Salvage Opel-Magna-Sberbank-GAZ Deal

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Wasn’t losing their precious intellectual property to the Rooskies the biggest beef GM had with the Opel-Magna-Sperbank deal? Wasn’t it clear that Sperbank wanted to sell its shares to GAZ? Wasn’t GM trying to block this deal by inserting a buyback clause? Now that GM has decided to keep Opel, those fears have evaporated. In the so far strangest twist in the Opel soap, GM is busy trying to salvage exactly the oddest part of the deal: The Opel-Magna-Sberbank-GAZ deal.

The DetN, the unofficial in-house organ of GM, reports (without flinching) that GM officials “still hope to negotiate an agreement with Magna and Russian automaker GAZ. A source familiar with the situation said GM has already contacted Sberbank.” Exactly. The same bank that is owned by oligarch Oleg Deripaska who had his US visa canceled amidst allegations of money laundering and organized crime. And who had to cut a deal with the FBI to be allowed back into the country. And who, according to the New York Times, “has repeatedly denied media reports that he had acquired a major stake in U.S. car maker GM.”

“I see us being able to pick up with Magna and GAZ and continue to try to develop this business –but obviously now as part of a GM-retained Opel, not as part of a Magna-Sberbank consortium,” said GM Group Vice President John Smith, who was the chief negotiator of the Opel deal. Warren Browne, a former head of GM Russia, also is positive that GM can work something out with the Russians: “The end of the Opel deal does not preclude GM from continuing to help GAZ with Magna’s support.”

Surprisingly, everything is lovey-dovey between Magna and GM. They just started a mutual admiration society. “We’ll continue to support Opel and GM, and hope our business will continue to grow with them,” said Magna Co-Chief Executive Don Walker. In return, John Smith heaps praise on Magna: “Magna is among GM’s best suppliers. We like them. We continue to be their largest customer.” What a lovely couple.

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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  • Pnnyj Pnnyj on Nov 09, 2009

    All the nice talk in public is there to cover up the fact that all involved are furiously trying to shiv each other in private. These things always make sense if you look at them cynically.

  • Steven02 Steven02 on Nov 09, 2009

    This isn't the same deal they were trying to negotiate with Opel and the German gov't. This is a deal from 3 years ago, well before this latest Opel situation went nuclear. I am not sure of what they production deal they are trying to make is. It would be interesting to report more on that.

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