* GM wouldn't waste money if it planned Opel bankruptcy -CEO
* Opel plays key technological role for GM worldwide -CEO
* Opel lacks economies of scale in critical areas -CEO
FRANKFURT, Nov 15 General Motors will not
sell its loss-making European unit Opel or "simply close up shop
and leave" it, the U.S. carmaker's Chief Executive told more
than 5,000 staff in Germany.
Former private equity manager Dan Akerson has come under
pressure from investors to divest or unwind Opel, which Morgan
Stanley forecasts will post another $1 billion in annual
operating losses on average through 2021 after $16 billion over
the past dozen years.
While other senior executives have defended Opel's role
within GM, this is the first time that Akerson has sworn loyalty
in front of the workforce.
"Our protracted losses have even prompted some analysts to
argue that we should sell Opel or simply close up shop and leave
car sales in the region to others - I'm not about to do that,"
he said in a speech on Thursday.
"As a global auto company, GM needs a strong design,
engineering, manufacturing and sales presence in Europe.
There's room for Chevrolet in Europe but Opel fulfils that
Unlike his number two, Steve Girsky, who called Opel "vital"
to the operations of GM, analysts believed Akerson was open to a
more radical approach given his minority view to sell Opel to
Magna late in 2009.
But the GM CEO made it clear that the 23 new models and
model replacements entering the market by the end of 2016 were
proof that GM was committed to helping its European brand.
"If our intention was to simply declare Opel bankrupt, or
let it drift until the economy rebounds, we wouldn't be wasting
our time and money with these investments," he said.
Speaking with Girsky at the Ruesselsheim plant, also home to
the brand's headquarters, Akerson's pledges of loyalty in
English were projected on a screen with German subtitles.
"Recommendations that we 'cut and run' show you that some
people simply do not see how important Opel is to our success,"
"They also overlook the key role Opel and the ITDC
(engineering and development centre) play in GM's global product
development plans, and Opel's expertise in CO2 reduction and
other technologies that have application around the world," he
Earlier this week, people familiar with the matter told
Reuters that GM and PSA Peugeot Citroen had shelved
talks on a deeper tie-up amid misgivings about PSA's worsening
finances and a government-backed bailout.
Akerson, who said GM planned to grow and not shrink Opel as
unions feared, only briefly mentioned GM's French ally.
"The fact is we lack economies of scale in critical areas
and if we can achieve scale by partnering with PSA, that's what
we are going to do," Akerson said.
One Opel employee who attended the event said the general
reaction was largely positive.
"I wouldn't call it thunderous, but there was applause.
(...) Some might still be cynical but overall it was seen as a
clear commitment to Opel and the important role it plays within
GM - I don't think it was interpreted as Akerson playing some