By Robert Sherefkin, Automotive News
Detroit, Illinois -- Facing renewed concerns of technology leaking among customers if Magna obtains the Adam Opel automotive unit, Magna International Inc. co-ceo Don Walker tried to allay those worries 14 Sept.
"There will be a clear firewall between customers and Magna," Walker told a press conference. "We have had a lot of discussions."
He acknowledged that auto parts giant Magna's potential ownership of an automaker is an issue for some customers and said he would put a "complete firewall" in place so there is no risk of technology transfer from its customers to Opel or from Opel to its customers.
Within a few months, Magna and Russian bank partner Sberbank could take majority control over the Opel/Vauxhall operations from General Motors.
Magna is sensitive to issues of technology leaks because it is awarded more than $5000-million worth of new contracts each year. That has prompted the suburban Toronto-based company to have its security audited by its customers "so they can see how we do it. If there are any concerns," Walker said, "we will address them."
Asked about heat from his customers, Walker said he has personally not received any negative feedback.
During an interview with Magna's second-largest customer, a top executive said it was a problem when a supplier became a competitor.
Magna would be well-advised to clearly separate the two businesses, BMW's head of production, Frank-Peter Arndt, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung during a weekend interview.
Walker countered criticism by saying that the industry needs strong suppliers with healthy balance sheets.
Through its Intier division, Magna is a major supplier of automotive seating in North America and the group also has a large automotive interiors and exteriors business, making sidewall and trim systems, overhead systems, carpet and loadspace systems, as well as cockpit and cargo management systems
You can reach Robert Sherefkin at [email protected]