Wednesday, 11 November 2009

GM update: Germany gives up on GM

A further update in the battle for state intervention in General Motors (see here and here) - today the German Economy Minister, Ranier Bruederie told GM that they would have to fund the restructuring of their European arm, Opel, alone. It now seems unlikely that GM will get state aid in Germany, a move unlikely to be popular with the German carworkers unions. The Germans are upset that GM had called off its decision to sell Opel to the Canadian parts manufacturer Magna, which was backed by the Russian state owned Sberbank. Magna had guaranteed Opel jobs in Germany in return for state aid. GM is presently 61% owned by the US government, (and 12% by Canada, making it a rare joint State Owned Enterprise). At its most sinister the reversed decision to sell to Magna might represent intervention from a US government concerned about technology transfer in the car industry to Russia, a present growth market. At its least sinister, the US government is putting pressure on GM to hold onto their European division, with its access to the EU and the growing Russian market to make the IPO that it is desperate to hold next year more attractive to investors. In Germany, meanwhile we have been treated to the rare spectacle of a government deciding not to intervene in the car industry. Although Germany may loose jobs in the short run if GM does decide to move Opel east, in the long run it will benefit from cheaper car imports. It just depends if this is a silver lining that the German government are prepared to accept. Given their history of intervention, other EU governments still seem likely to support GM remaining in the countries as far as EU law allows. Perhaps the tax payers of Europe will loose out while US and Canadian tax payers profit.

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About Me

London, United Kingdom
I'm Lecturer in Management at The York Management School, at The University of York, UK. I teach strategic management to undergraduate and masters students, as well as running the masters dissertation module. My research focuses on business and management history.