As you know, I take this whole GM-Renault-Nissan thing quite personally, as it has the potential to significantly impact on Saab’s future.
The pawns on the GMRN chessboard moved quite a bit overnight. I’m not a huge chessplayer, but I know enough of the game to know that subtle moves can alter the playing field significantly.
First of all, we have GM CEO Rick Wagoner taking the unprecedented step of communicating his thoughts on GM’s current turnaround strategy on the Fastlane weblog. Fastlane’s normally reserved for pumping up the products and has been an historical repository for the septegenerian sausage, Bob Lutz. This time, Rick’s taking deliberate steps to ensure that all the GM faithful know that people are working, and working hard, to put things right on GM’s own terms.
For a reputedly quiet guy, Rick’s making all the right noises and the timing isn’t a coincidence.
What’s on the table right now is a compromise of control for GM. A situation where decision making that would be subject to the good graces of several major shareholders, should Renault and Nissan join corporate raider Kirk Kerkorian in holding 10% each in The General.
Obviously the stakes are high and in terms of GM’s ongoing investment in Saab they couldn’t be higher, which is why I’d be quite pleased if Kirk would just do the honorable thing and shuffle off his mortal coil.
On the other side, the latest news reads like Carlos the Jackal is also accepting the fact that perhaps GM isn’t quite as vulnerable as Jerry York and Kirk Kerkorian led him to believe over those fillet mignon lunch meetings.
Carlos has come out and set the bar so high for an alliance to go ahead that it reads like he’s looking for an out before anything is seriously considered.
“I would consider that a deal becomes interesting if the (probable) opportunities are about 10 times the (probable) risks,” Ghosn said.
Ghosn reckons there’s a potential 3 to 5 billion in savings on purchasing if they hook up, but as I mentioned in a previous post on GM purchasing, they’re confident they can achieve that on their own.
“The questions we gave to ask are: will it improve our product offer; will it allow us to be more competitive; will it give us access to new markets; will it reduce our investment costs; and above all, will it be manageable?” Ghosn said.
Carlos, you can be quite sure that GM are asking themselves the same questions. And my guess is they’ll conclude there’s a lot more in this potential deal for Renault and Nissan (and Kirk Kerkorian) than what there is for GM.
I’ll bet my queen on it.