The beauty of blogging is the dialogue one has with commenters. Thank you for your thoughts. You’ve prompted me to mull the following questions, possibilities and scenarios about the developing GM/Opel story:
1) Perhaps GM’s board wants management to develop a cogent European strategy before selling Opel. Without control of Opel (and Vauxhall), GM would be mainly a U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China player. I am simplifying, but only somewhat. Europe is a mature and fairly crowded market, yes, but it’s also a solid, reliable one – and of course it’s long been an automotive trend-setter. Moreover, when eastern Europe and Russia recover from the recession, they could yet be a growth prospect for car makers.
2) Is there some sort of European alliance with, say, Nissan-Renault or another Asian (Hyundai?), European or American (Ford?) auto maker that would let GM retain a good chunk of its long-standing Opel engineering, manufacturing and marketing expertise? Has the board perhaps asked CEO Henderson and his team to explore such options?
3) Is there a Magna consortium configuration – such as including new partners and scuttling existing ones (some of the Russians, perhaps?) that would make the GM board more comfortable? Ditto RHJ – does the GM board want certain assurances from the private equity firm that it will bring the necessary operational expertise to the table?
4) Given recent economic data suggesting Europe, especially Germany and France, are poised to recover from the recession, perhaps auto market conditions – present and potential – have improved to the point where GM’s board wants to suss out sales prospects in the coming year or two before moving ahead with the Opel sale.
Happy to hear readers’ views on these and other issues I’ve not thought about.