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GM And Chinese Partner SAIC Will Significantly Expand Alliance

Is the deal a payback for SAIC’s investment in GM IPO?

by on Nov.03, 2010

GM and SAIC will expand cooperation on future products. They've already developed a number together, including the Buick Riviera Concept.

General Motors and its Chinese partner, SAIC Motor Corp., have announced a potentially significant expansion of their decade-old partnership, one that could reach well beyond the fast-growing Asian nation.

The non-binding agreement calls for the makers, among other things, to cooperate on the development of “new energy vehicles,” such as the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.  It also expands their joint effort to penetrate other emerging markets, such as India.

“Strategically, this is about GM getting a leg up in China without having to pay for it all on its own,” said Jim Hal, chief analyst with Detroit-based 2953 Analytics.  The deal is also about expanding access to India, “which may mimic the huge growth we’ve seen in China in recent years.

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But several observers, including sources within GM, tell TheDetroitBureau.com that the new venture may also be a quid-pro-quo for a possible investment by SAIC in the upcoming General Motors IPO.  The maker, according to recent reports, will stage its long-awaited stock offering on November 18th, with shares to be offered at somewhere between $26 and $29. (Click Here for the full story.)

“The Chinese desperately want access to the technology we’ve been using in the Volt,” said a ranking executive involved in the U.S. maker’s electrification efforts.  “But so far, anyway, we’ve been reluctant to share it with them,” he added, requesting anonymity because of his sensitive management position.

Whether SAIC actually will invest in GM could be a potentially hot potato for a company that survived last year’s bankruptcy only with a $50 billion federal bailout, and which has become known to critics as “Government Motors.”  In light of this week’s elections, such a move by SAIC could be even more politically charged.

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