After a day of worker protests across Europe
at various General Motors plants, news comes today from Carl-Peter Foster (above), head of GM Europe, that Opel is planning to reorganize itself as a joint-stock company. GM would basically give up between 25-50 percent of its stake in the spun off company, with the hope that outside investors would make up the rest. The reorg would also likely include concessions by workers for lower pay as well as a restructuring plan to lower operating costs. The main obstacle to separating Opel from GM in the past has been the degree to which the two are intertwined, but a joint-stock company in which GM remains the largest shareholder allows the two to operate as closely as ever while severing some of those ties that bind. It may also set the stage for a detangling of Opel's models from GM's product portfolio over time, which would facilitate the outright separation of the brand from its parent company in the future.
In the meantime, Opel needs approximately 3.3 billion euros or $4.2 billion USD to stay solvent and GM is in talks with governments in Spain, the UK and Germany about receiving government aid. Opel is also submitting a business plan by the end of next week to four German states in which it operates plants, and the German federal government headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive a similar plan by this Monday, March 2.
| Photo by THOMAS LOHNES/AFP/Getty]