Finally, after what seems like an eternity of protracted negotiations, bickering and stalling tactics, General Motors has agreed to sell a majority stake in its European operations to Magna International and its Russian financial partner Sberbank. Under the terms of the deal, 55% of Opel and Vauxhall will be owned by Magna/Sberbank; The General will hold on to a 35% stake and employees of the two companies will hold the final 10 percent.
Naturally, the European automakers will continue to offer the recently redesigned Astra and Insignia, and future technologies – such as the extended-range electric powertrain that will be used in the upcoming Ampera – will be shared between the U.S. and European companies.
According to Automotive News, there are still strings attached to the deal and the German government doesn't expect anything to be completely finalized until after the next set of elections scheduled to take place in Germany on September 27, so the saga is likely to continue. Click past the break for the official statement from GM.
[Sources: General Motors; Automotive News - sub. req'd]
GM Board Recommendation to Sell Majority Stake in Opel/Vauxhall to Magna International/Sberbank
* GM to sell 55% stake in New Opel to Magna/Sberbank
* Agreement on new ownership structure signals fresh start for New Opel
* Employees to hold 10% stake in New Opel
* Government supports financing through additional state guarantees
Zurich. General Motors today announced that its Board of Directors supports a bid from the consortium of Magna International Inc. and Sberbank to buy a majority stake in its European Opel/Vauxhall operations.
Several key issues will be finalized over the next few weeks to secure the binding agreements, including the written support of the labor unions to support the deal with the necessary cost restructuring for viability and the finalization of a definitive financing package from the German government. The definitive agreements should be ready to sign within a few weeks, with closing to follow within the next few months. Under the deal, Magna/Sberbank will purchase a 55 percent stake in New Opel; GM will hold a 35 percent stake and employees will be provided a 10 percent stake.
"The hard work over the past two weeks to clarify open issues and resolve details in the German financial package brought GM and its Board of Directors to recommend Magna/Sberbank," said Fritz Henderson, GM President and CEO. "We thank all parties involved in the intensive process of the last few months -- especially the German government -- for their continued support that enables this new venture. I'd also like to thank the Opel and Vauxhall customers for their continued loyalty. GM will continue to closely collaborate with Opel and Vauxhall to develop and produce more great cars, such as the new Insignia and the new Astra," Henderson added.
The agreement will keep Opel/Vauxhall a fully integrated part of GM's global product development organization, allowing all parties to benefit from the exchange of technology and engineering resources. The new ownership structure constitutes a new lean, efficient and independent organization for the Opel and Vauxhall brands. The current portfolio of Opel/Vauxhall cars and the models in the pipeline are a strong basis for future success.
Participating in GM's global technology development and purchasing organizations secures important economies of scale for Opel/Vauxhall and other GM brands. For example, vehicles that represent new propulsion technologies, such as the Ampera extended-range electric vehicle, can only be brought to market in a joint effort.
"GM operates many joint ventures around the world and has proven in the past that this business model delivers the right balance of independence, innovation and synergies," said John Smith, GM Group Vice President Business Development. "All parties will work hard to close the deal as soon as possible," he added.