GM/Opel: German Government Money? Us? What For? On Second Thought …

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

The Opel/GM saga has more twists than New York’s Peppermint Lounge. Yesterday, we reported that GM’s Smith & Reilly went to Berlin to beg money from German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle. They received the cold shoulder.

Like good salesmen, they didn’t take no for an answer.

Yesterday, a spokesperson of GM said ( apparently, in German…): “Our company is working under the assumption that the support that was promised by the governments for the plan worked out with Magna basically is also negotiable under the new circumstances, because the GM plan follows a similar approach.”

Then in the evening, Bruederle said on national TV that GM wants to restructure Opel all on their own, without government money, and that would be “very good news” to the Minister. He even asked for confirmation from GM, and received it. For him, the explosive Opel topic would be “defused” now. He apparently is glad the hand grenade has been removed from his lap. Until GM does the Twist again.

Update: And they sure did. Reuters just put on the wire that “General Motors reiterated on Friday it wanted state aid to help restructure European arm Opel after Germany’s economics minister said the carmaker would not ask European taxpayers for help.”

Opel labor leader Klaus Franz said today: “”It’s chaos-days at GM. It’s worse than the Bermuda Triangle. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board doesn’t know what the CEO is doing.”

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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6 of 9 comments
  • Stingray Stingray on Nov 13, 2009

    ¡Que descaro! *facepalm* *rolleyes*

  • Iceracer Iceracer on Nov 13, 2009

    Chubby Checker is the definition of cool.

    • Paradigm_shift Paradigm_shift on Nov 13, 2009

      I love the cutaways to the homely looking chicks. One dude in the audience, and he was dressed in a full suit. Man, times change...

  • Wmba Wmba on Nov 13, 2009

    Yup, Bertel, and now this from "Whitacre told the Kolnische Rundschau, 'I believe that we really don't need any money from the German government. If (German Chancellor) Ms Merkel does not want to make anything available, then we will just pay for it ourselves.' 'Maybe this news will make your chancellor happy,' he added. However, GM chief executive Fritz Henderson is believed to be seeking German government aid, similar to the offered credit by Berlin to a potential buyer for Opel. Whitacre also distanced himself from Henderson's apology earlier this week for the way GM suddenly announced that it would not sell Opel as planned to Austrian parts manufacturer Magna and a Russian bank. 'I do not agree at all with Henderson on this. The decision-making process may well have caused some confusion, but there is nothing to reproach us for,' Whitacre, a former AT&T executive and US President Barack Obama's appointee to the board of GM, said." Boy, Whitacre really doesn't get it. He disagrees with Henderson, who seems to have some political savvy, and doesn't think springing a surprise on a national government merits an apology. And him a nationalized company chairman of the board. Now he gets the US government to agree to overpay executives -- will they be as clueless as he apparently is? Using our taxpayer money? Stay tuned for the next installment of how not to do things. Wagoner's hubris had nothing on this man. And the whole thing shows how hopeless the Obama government is, not knowing or caring what their nationalized companies are up to.

  • Steven02 Steven02 on Nov 13, 2009

    If Germany doesn't play ball, they are going to lose more jobs than they have to. So they will either pay to keep the jobs, or they will pay for unemployment. If Germany didn't try to bully GM into picking the buyer that Germany wanted, and not a buyer that was necessarily good for Opel, they wouldn't be in this situation.

    • Charly Charly on Nov 13, 2009

      GM good for Opel? It doesn't have money and to many enemies.