Thursday, October 16, 2008

GM wants their money back

Bob Lutz, GM's vice-chairman, said GM is making plans to move money from Chinese operations to the U.S. in order to to compensate fo North American losses. Since nobody seems to want to buy the Hummer brand, which GM put up for sale, repatriating profits from China is one of the few options left for GM.

Desparate times.

Draining the huge, vibrant and growing China market of funds while the rest of the world tanks doesn't sound like such a good idea, but these are desperate times. "We do not rule out such a possibility under current conditions,” Lutz said. (Translation: We are already preparing the transfer.)

GM had been doing really well in China since they started producing vehicles here in 1999. This has changed. The Volkswagen Group again is China's market leader in passenger vehicles. GM is also being outsold by Toyota in passenger vehicles. The gap may widen if Detroit pulls out marketing and development funds from China.

Already, General Motors Corp. Asia Pacific President Nick Reilly said the company's vehicle sales in China fell in August and September from a year earlier. He also isn't too sure about GM's previous forecast of of 11% to 12% overall sales growth in the Chinese auto market for 2008. "The market is too unpredictable to forecast with any credibility," Reilly said. (Translation: Prepare for the worst.)

SAIC won't like it.

Their joint venture partners will not be amused by GM wanting their money back when cash is king and credit is an endangered species.

General Motors has several JVs in China through mergers of local companies jointly held with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) - one of China's top three automakers. SAIC is also an important JV partner of Volkswagen, and if the money flows back to Detroit, SAIC may like the Germans even better. Volkswagen doesn't need the money, their stock is skyrocketing (see real time chart on the left) while the rest of the world is going to the toilet.

Picture by mikecolvin82. Thank you!

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