SAIC Buys Half Of GM's Indian Ops, And Then Some

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

SAIC halted trading of its stock today due to a “major asset reorganization.” According to Dow Jones Newswire, SAIC’s board will hold a meeting before Dec. 9 to discuss the asset reorganization plan. SAIC said its shares will resume trading on the Shanghai Stock Exchange after it announces a detailed plan on the reorganization. While SAIC is tightlipped, Chinese media is abuzz with speculations.

The most likely reason is that SAIC wants to rejiggle its international assets. I can be something as benign as taking over the moribund British van maker, LDV, it could be the long awaited announcement that SAIC and GM will jointly invade the Indian market. Another possibility that is being bandied about is that SAIC might want to alter their joint venture agreements, which could mean buying or selling shares in one or more of their joint venture partners. SAIC has major joint ventures with GM and Volkswagen. As reported yesterday, GM China’s November sales jumped 109.5 percent. The Chinese joint ventures are strategic assets for both GM and VW. Without China, GM would be dead, and Volkswagen could bury its plans to surpass Toyota by 2018.

Or it could be what Bloomberg thinks: GM will sell a 1 percent share in their 50:50 partnership to SAIC, so that SAIC will be able to consolidate the earnings. This due to an accounting rule change in China that goes into effect January 1, 2010. Let’s see whether GM will count the gadzillions of GM cars sold in China in the annual OICA ranking after they are in a minority position. Any bets?

Update: This just in from R euters:

“GM has agreed to sell half its Indian operations and a stake in its Chinese business to China’s SAIC Motor Corp, the New York Times reported on Thursday. The report said the information came from “people with a detailed knowledge” of the deal.”

The NYT confirms the 1 percent version floated by Bloomberg, and they think, GM just gave away much more than a percent: ” Michael Dunne, an auto consultant specializing in Asian markets, said that for G.M. to accept a minority holding in its main joint venture marked an inevitable decline in G.M.’s influence in China, which has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest auto market. “Dropping below the 50-50 partnership is huge — there may be a way to preserve voting rights, but symbolically, it is a step down,” Mr. Dunne said.”

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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  • Rnc Rnc on Dec 03, 2009

    I would wait for some actual information about the actual reasons why this was done (and what actually was done). Isn't there some sort of rules that a 50/50 JV can't export cars from China, at 51% could it then become a chinese owned corporation that could?

  • Akitadog Akitadog on Dec 06, 2009

    I don't understand why companies in JVs don't just count the percentage of cars equivalent to the percentage of ownership. If GM ends up with 49% of the SAIC JV, and the JV sells 100,000 cars, I don't see a problem with GM claiming 49,000 cars in their numbers.

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