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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]


PRESS RELEASE:

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
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  • 13 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      With Saturn being sold, I guess Opels will be badged Buicks in the US.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now the question is:
      When will Buick be available in all of Europe?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great news! Congrats to Frank - a real rags to riches immigrant sucess story here in Canada.

      I really do hope Opel does well - I'm a very happy owner of an Astra and hope to see these cars built and sold in Canada and the US.

      I do worry for GM tho - they need OPEL in a big way
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't worry for GM, worry for Opel. Anything attached to Russin investors (Nicolai Smolensky destroyed TVR; GAZ stripped LDV Vans' technology and put that company out of business; questionable Russian banks, and GAZ's ownership in Magna) is clearly a red flag, and Chancellor Merkel and company's political bullying makes one wonder if this was really the best deal. I can only hope that GM got its buyback clause and intellectual property rights in place before this sham deal is finalized. I still think GM ownershhip, an RHJ purchase or an Independent Opel is better than this.

        We'll see how Magna fares when the companies they contract-build (Mercedes, Aston Martin, Chrysler) and supply parts for (remember, Volkswagen threatened to drop Magna should they buy Opel) decide to say good-bye and good luck.

        Do you think the German government and the unions will pitch in to help Opel should the going get tough? No.

        Until the situation proves otherwise, goodbye Opel. Nice knowing you. I wish you well.

        PS: Your Catera was a piece of junk. the Aussie Holdens were much better; I drove both the GTO and G8, Fine cars indeed. The used car lots around here are filled with Cateras tha no one wants to buy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        We're not getting the Opels we were promised, though. We're still going to get Buicks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Big mistake on GM's part to sell Opel.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Find them 6.1 billion.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not like they had much of a choice, the German government were the ones propping up Opel and they didn't want GM to keep owning it. (Because an automaker being owned by the Canadians and Russians is better for Germany than it being owned by Americans, I guess)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now it gets interesting. With Saturn pulling out of Canada and Magna's far from secret plans to sell and likely build Opel here. Will Magna's big gamble pay off?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Magna could take over the service and warranty work for Saturn of Canada when Penske pulls out, saving GM the headache, and if he buys the Canadian Saturn dealer network he could save the jobs, and get an existing customer base to move from a Saturn Astra to Opel Astra with little effort since Saturns are Opels until 2011 anyway. Would be an easy transition if he snags the dealers and service agreements on Saturn cars in Canada. A marketing campaign to educate non-Saturn owners about Opel and he'd be an over night legitimate competitor in the Canadian market.

        I seriously doubt that Opel will be allowed into Canada as the New GM probably wants to do all it can to prevent such a thing, and with the New GM being 12% owned by the Canadian government, they will likely lobby to keep Opel out, plus get a non-compete clause that specifies Opel may not compete in any market Buick sells cars on Opel platforms. The New GM seems to be very against badge engineering and introducing Opels in Canada where there are about to be several Buick branded Opels on the roads would highlight the fact that New GM badge engineers just like Old GM. But I can dream.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Lets hope GM lets Magna offer Opels in Canada. Since they are retaining more then a 1/3 stake in Opel they likely still get some say as to where Opels are sold and since GM offers vehicles on the same platforms in the same categories the New GM might not like competing with their badge engineered Buiks against the Opels they are based on. But, assuming GM does not get a non-compete clause regarding the Canadian market in the deal, lets hope Frank buys all the rights to Saturn in Canada and turns all those dealers Penske is closing in Canada, with his announced withdrawal of Saturn from Canada, into Opel dealers. That would be a hell of a good day to be Canadian!
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