Thursday, December 24, 2009
Fiat Rumored to be Interested in Buying a Majority Stake in Opel
Not long ago, the Fiat Group was partially in the arms of General Motors and in deep financial woes with many analysts then questioning the automaker's future. Now, the Italians have emerged as an automotive powerhouse that's not only fighting to form a partnership with ailing U.S. carmaker Chrysler but according to the latest reports, is also ready to invest in General Motors' Opel and Vauxhall brands. Citing unnamed sources familiar with the negotiations, German magazine Spiegel went as far as to claim that Fiat will sign a letter of intent as soon as next Tuesday, something that will allow the Italian carmaker to obtain a majority stake in Opel.
The German magazine said however that Opel workers 'sharply oppose' Fiat's interest in the company. Klaus Franz, who is a delegate of Opel employees on the company's works council, told Spiegel that he feared "dramatic reduction of jobs at Opel and the closure of plants in Germany," mainly due to the fact that two companies' model portfolio overlap. Franz also said that company had bad experiences with Fiat in the past "We know the bride," he was quoted saying.
Officially, Fiat has made no mention of GM's European unit, which sounds reasonable since the Italians are still in the midst of negotiations with Chrysler LLC.
Our take? Fiat doesn't seem to have learned anything from its past troubles and unsuccessful ventures with other automakers. Now, just as they have managed to shape up the company a bit, they're trying to get into a new mess by acquiring / forming partnerships with ailing automakers at the worst possible time - during a world spread financial crisis. If anything else, Fiat should concentrate on fixing its own marques like Alfa Romeo and especially Lancia which has been a shadow of its former self for many years now.