It has been a longer than expected process of negotiations, but now the board of General Motors has announced its support for a bid from Magna International and Sberbank to buy a majority stake in the European Opel/Vauxhall operations.
The sale is not officially finalised – instead several key issues will be resolved over the coming weeks including gaining the written support of labour unions to support the deal with the necessary cost restructuring for viability and finalisation. It is expected however, that the definitive agreements should be signed within a few weeks that will see Magna/Sberbank take a 55 per cent stake in New Opel; with GM holding a 35 per cent stake and employees holding the remaining 10 per cent.
As a result of the agreement, Opel/Vauxhall will remain a fully integrated part of GM's global product development organisation which in turn allows the parties to exchange technology and engineering resources.
By participating in GM's global technology development and purchasing organisations, the Opel/Vauxhall brands will benefit from important economies of scale – for example the Ampera extended range electric vehicle, based on the Chevrolet Volt, can only be brought to market in a joint effort with GM.
John Smith, the GM Group's vice president of business development, noted that GM has several joint ventures around the world and believes that the business model will offer the right balance of independence, innovation and synergies.