Once again, the big news has broken whilst I was sleeping and whilst it doesn’t concern Saab directly, it definitely has an effect.
No doubt you’ve probably seen it already, but that big news is that GM Europe (read: Opel) is seeking a spin-off from the corporate mothership.
General Motors Europe has begun the process of separating from full GM ownership as part of its plans to raise 3.3 billion euros to ensure its survival.
GM Europe plans to form a joint stock company for its German-based Opel unit and UK sister brand Vauxhall.
The new company would remain linked to GM while letting outside investors take a stake of more than a quarter, GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster told a news conference today.
“GM could be a majority shareholder in the new business structure with more than 50 percent,” a GM Europe source told Automotive News Europe.
The source said no decisions have been made on the new business structure. “Today a process has been started,” he said.
Forster said Opel is moving to restructure its business with as minimal an impact on jobs as possible but said plant closures could not be ruled out.
In fact, it’s a little more than just a plant closure. There’s already one report stating that Opel may sell one of it’s plants to Daimler.
General Motors sources today confirmed press reports that its Opel subsidiary could sell a German car plant to Daimler.
A GM source said a decision could be made within weeks on whether Daimler, which makes Mercedes-Benz cars, will buy Opel’s plant in Eisenach, eastern Germany, where the Corsa small car is made.
So what’s the Saab angle here?
I’ve written previously on the difficulties between Saab and Opel. They’ve had a hard time co-operating when they were told by the mothership to play nice.
If Opel can pull off this separation from full GM control then they’re going to have a much stronger case for building a stronger corporate identity and taking the Opel brand further upmarket, which is what I believe they’ve wanted to do for some time now.
This only strengthens the argument for Saab seeking new ownership and an exit from the GM group. They’d be dead meat under Opel’s direction.