GM Makes It Official: PSA Lands Opel in $2.3 Billion Deal, America Keeps Its Buick Supply (for Now)

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gm makes it official psa lands opel in 2 3 billion deal america keeps its buick

As expected, General Motors started off the work week by officially announcing the selloff of its European division to France’s PSA Group.

The Opel and Vauxhall brands, which have stubbornly resisted all attempts to return to profitability, are no longer GM’s problem. It’s a complex deal, but on the product side, Americans can still expect a generation of Buick Regals based on the Opel Insignia.

By severing a 90-year corporate tie and offloading Opel/Vauxhall to PSA, GM has created a new second-biggest automaker in Europe. The French automaker will now control 17 percent of the market, topped only by Volkswagen Group.

GM will gain 2.2 billion euros ($2.33 billion U.S.) through the purchase of its automotive subsidiaries and GM Financial’s European operations, with the latter group acquired through a 50/50 joint venture between PSA and French bank BNP Paribas. In a joint media release, the automakers claim the lending unit’s platform and staff will remain in place.

“We respect all that Opel/Vauxhall’s talented people have achieved as well as the company’s fine brands and strong heritage,” said PSA chairman Carlos Tavares in a statement. “We intend to manage PSA and Opel/Vauxhall capitalizing on their respective brand identities. Having already created together winning products for the European market, we know that Opel/Vauxhall is the right partner. We see this as a natural extension of our relationship and are eager to take it to the next level.”

It’s not all gravy for GM, however. For its side of the deal, GM must cover existing pension obligations for Opel employees — a responsibility worth about $3 billion. The automaker’s Turin, Italy engineering center remains in American hands.

Claiming that the deal positions Opel and Vauxhall for long-term success, GM CEO Mary Barra stated “we look forward to our participation in the future success and strong value-creation potential of PSA through our economic interest and continued collaboration on current and exciting new projects.”

For GM, the deal includes $689 million in PSA share warrants, which can be exercised after five years. (No voting rights or governance comes attached to those shares.) Now that it is unburdened from its money-losing European divisions, GM can also repurchase more of its own shares — accelerating part of its long-term financial plan.

Just because it’s Splitsville for GM and Opel doesn’t mean the two automakers won’t remain strategically linked. GM and PSA plan to collaborate on electrification projects designed to give both companies a competitive edge in the expanding EV market. As GM’s Buick brand relies heavily on Opel for product, “existing supply agreements for Holden and certain Buick models will continue,” the automakers announced.

As PSA platforms trickle into the Opel lineup over the coming years, expect to see the gradual erosion of Buick’s European links.

The deal also leaves open the possibility of PSA sourcing fuel cells from a GM-Honda joint venture sometime in the future.

[Image: Opel]

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  • Thegamper Thegamper on Mar 06, 2017

    Im shocked in a way that the artist formerly known as the largest auto manufacturer on the planet, (8 years ago?) has totally bowed out of Europe (which I assume is the third largest market behind China and US). I have to believe that there is some plan to sell cars in Europe in GM's future. I wouldn't be surprised to see them try and sell Korean made cars there again, maybe even under a totally new brand. I cannot believe that they are just abandoning an entire continent. But, maybe they are. Focus on making money, its the new coolest thing!

    • See 2 previous
    • Guitar man Guitar man on Mar 07, 2017

      @RHD The Camaro is sold on the continent(no RHD model). All of the other vehicles sold with Chevrolet badges are made or sold by Opel.

  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Mar 06, 2017

    GM - largest car producer in the world for more than 70 years. Now: 3rd place before vacating Europe. US - only profitable because of Chevy Pickups. China - only profitable because of Buick Everything else = money losers.

    • See 1 previous
    • Varezhka Varezhka on Mar 06, 2017

      Didn't Hyundai-Kia already pass GM for the 3rd place last year (per OICA statistics)? Anyways and more importantly, I feel like GM has always depended mostly on its US popularity for its profits and marketshare. Back in 60s, North America made up 1/2 of the worldwide automotive market by sales volume, so the most popular automaker here was the most popular automaker of the world. Not so much any longer, but with few exceptions like China, GM had failed to successfully exploit new and expanding markets. GM gets 90% of worldwide profit from the NA market, but I'm curious to see if that wasn't always the case.

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