The latest speculation swirling around General Motors’ possible sale is that the board does not favour the Magna consortium because that would mean handing over intellectual property to Russia – consortium partners Sberbank and GAZ.
GM’s board is expected to begin a two-day meeting today but there has been media speculation that, rather than decide on a sale to Magna, a sale to RJH International or keeping the operation for a restructure, the board could yet again defer a resolution till after German elections scheduled for 27 September.
Kurt Lauk, head of the Christian Democratic Union’s Economic Council and a former board member of DaimlerChrysler and Audi, said GM could decide to keep a majority stake in its Germany-based division to retain a bigger presence in Europe and Russia where it has been building plants and adding capacity.
“I just can’t believe that GM’s new board will accept transferring important know-how to the Russians,” Lauk was quoted as saying. It would be “commercially wise” for GM to keep Opel on the basis of a “restructuring plan,” he added.
German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung said GM’s board was expected to announce today that it would keep Opel.
Such a move would trigger a union backlash as labour has previously said it would not help Opel make savings unless the Magna bid succeeded. And German politicians are likley to call in their EUR1.5bn in temporary loan guarantees.
Lauk reportedly said Germany endorsed Magna as its preferred bidder “way too soon.”
“Should the Russians become co-owners of Opel, they’ll get much quicker access to GM’s small car technology,” Lauk said. “I’m convinced that would pose a fundamental problem to the new board.”
German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck has said the US won’t get involved in GM’s decision.
“My impression is that the American government very clearly sees the decision as the responsibility of the GM board,” he was quoted as saying.