By Douglas Bolduc, Automotive News Europe
Munich, Germany -- General Motors Co.'s board announced today that it plans to sell a majority stake in its Opel/Vauxhall unit to Canadian parts supplier Magna International Inc. and its Russian partner Sberbank.
Under the deal, Magna and Sberbank will purchase a 55 percent stake in Opel, GM will hold 35 percent and employees will get a 10 percent share.
To finalise the deal, GM wants written support from Opel's labour unions that they will back the deal, which will require cost cuts. The US automaker also wants to see a "definitive financing package from the German government," the company said in a statement.
GM said it expects to have the agreement within a few weeks and foresees the deal closing within the next few months.
GM also promised to play a big role in the New Opel.
"GM will continue to closely collaborate with Opel and Vauxhall to develop and produce more great cars, such as the new Insignia and the new Astra," GM ceo Fritz Henderson said in a statement.
GM said the agreement will keep Opel a fully integrated part of the company's global product development organisation, allowing all the stakeholders to benefit from the exchange of technology and engineering resources.
This means that Opel will be able to bring to market its version of the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric car. It will be sold by Opel and Vauxhall as the Ampera.
GM said Opel's continued participation in its GM's global technology development and purchasing organizations will secure important economies of scale for Opel/Vauxhall and other GM brands.
John Smith, GM's head of business development, said: "GM operates many joint ventures around the world and has proven in the past that this business model delivers the right balance of independence, innovation and synergies."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the decision. "The government's patience and purpose has paid off. It was not an easy path," she told a news conference.
Merkel's government had backed Magna over rival bidder, Brussels-listed RHJ International.
Magna International, based in Aurora, Ontario, is the No. 3 injection moulder in North America, with relevant sales of $1200 Million, according to Plastics News' recent ranking.