He's got the whole world, in his hands...at least Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne would like to, and he could come a lot closer if he gets GM's Opel subsidiary, as well as a planned stake in Chrysler.
Already set to gain a major stake in bankrupt U.S. automaker Chrysler LLC, the Italian “white knight,” Fiat SpA, may be riding in to sweep up another troubled automotive venture, in this case, General Motors Corp.’s European subsidiary, Opel.
Though there’d been suggestions that Fiat might want to purchase a piece of German-based Opel, which GM was willing to sell to raise some much-needed cash, it now appears that Fiat’s global-minded CEO, Sergio Marchionne, could be looking to buy Opel lock, stock and carburetor barrel.
That raises a number of questions, for one thing, whether GM would walk away from Opel entirely, and if so, how would it survive without the vast European empire it had created over the last seven decades? What would Fiat have in mind for Opel, and how would it integrate the operation into its own automaking empire? Perhaps most importantly, how would the heavily debt-laden Italian maker be able to afford the acquisition, considering its own financial challenges?
A new statement, issued by the Fiat Board of Directors, in Turin, confirmed “its full support for the initiative to be undertaken, over the next few weeks, by its Chief Executive Officer, Sergio Marchionne, to assess the viability of a merger of Fiat Group Automobiles (including the interest in Chrysler) and General Motors Europe into a new company.”
The deal, the board statement declared, would create a global automotive behemoth, with approximately 80 billion Euros ($106.9 billion) in annual revenues.
Earlier this year, former GM CEO Rick Wagoner announced the automaker would consider selling a large, and possibly controlling stake in Opel in return for a European government bailout that would keep the troubled operation in business. But until now, Wagoner, his successor, Fritz Henderson and other senior General Motors executives had said they would maintain at least a major, if not controlling stake.
“We are talking to them, amongst other parties,” CEO Henderson on Monday told the Associated Press, “Not solely Fiat, but several parties who have an interest in making investment in our European business.” (more…)