Magna's Demel Ready to Take Opel Helm

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

The sale of GM’s Opel to Magna/Sberbank is being mulled-over in Brussels (decision by November 27, maybe.) Sperbank’s Oligarch Oleg Deripaska finally was allowed to enter the United States after his visa was denied because of mob-related suspicions. He finally met Fritz Henderson, and some FBI agents. There is talk that GM doesn’t want to let go of Opel’s R&D. Will it ever end? Magna thinks so. A Magna man is ready to take the helm.

Up until recently, GME’s Carl-Peter Forster wanted to be the leader of the operative part of Opel. Magna’s guy was supposed to get the more or less honorary title of Chairman of the Opel Holding. Now, Germany’s Wirtschaftswoche reports that Herbert Demel will become CEO of Opel – if and when the deal is finally consumed.

Demel heads up Magna-Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik in Graz, Austria, where cars for BMW and Daimler are developed and made. Demel was CEO of Fiat Auto and Audi – he has plenty of car experience. According to Wirtschaftswoche, Forster is looking for another job. And what will happen to the current Opel CEO Hans Demant? He and his labor leader Klaus Franz were early adopters of the “set Opel free” movement. While Franz is having daily press appearances, it became quiet around Demant.

Then, there ist another interesting development: Opel is rolling in money! Even if Brussels won’t decide on November 27, it won’t be the end of Opel. Rheinische Post reports that the bridge loan given by the German government will last well into the new year. Automobilwoche [sub] says that the complete loan has never been paid out, and some of it may even have been paid back. GM may not have to sell after all.

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
  • Autonut Autonut on Nov 01, 2009

    The main character in this circus is connected to mobsters. The question du jour: are his connection go inside Kremlin walls or outside as well? Opel goes to mobster. Great ending.

  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Nov 01, 2009

    Very curious, in Italy, they are busting and perp-walking the mobsters (and are now set to put their Premier on trial), but it seems the Germans are willing to facilitate them (Realpolitik-redux?), and the Americans are willing to look the other way... BTW, anyone else wonder if the delay in entry was due to Fritz asking his employers for a little help there??

  • Autonut Autonut on Nov 01, 2009

    My guess it was Putin asking Fritz's employer for professional courtesy.

  • FromBrazil FromBrazil on Nov 01, 2009

    +1 Dadude53 It's always curious to se how some execs get so much slack cut, when clearly their previous efforts have not been up to snuff. Hummm, having a very hard time digesting this one. FWIW everybody in the bizz in Brazil seems to despise him...