General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) is trying everything it can to mend its Opel operations. After sacking Karl-Friedrich Stracke, Opel’s then CEO last Thursday, GM has appointed Thomas Sedrin, a German restructuring consultant, as the interim CEO. U.S. automakers including Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and General Motors are bleeding cash in Europe as they struggle with overcapacity issues in the region. Moreover, the strong unions won’t let the auto companies shut their under-performing plants. Under the previous CEO, there were plans for shifting production to the European plants to soak up overcapacity in the region but with this reshuffle, it remains to be seen whether the company will stick to its original plans.
Since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, GM’s Opel has lost more than $3.5 billion. GM’s North American operations continue to do well but its European operations keep piling on losses. The automaker lost $747 million in 2011 and $256 million in the first three months of 2012. Similar is the story with Ford.
But GM would need to do more than just keep changing the top management. The new car registrations fell 7% in Europe in the first half of the year but GM’s European brands Opel and Vauxhaull fared even worse; the demand was down 15%.  Moreover, Opel hasn’t been able to match the technical advancements made by other German car manufacturers. 
Earlier in the year, GM and French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen formed a partnership to save $2 billion annually within five years from synergies developed between the two. Peugeot Citroen is reportedly losing $250 million and announced its decision to cut 8,000 jobs. But the new Socialist government in France under Francois Hollande has termed the move as unacceptable and is ready to provide subsidies to French companies in order to prevent job cuts. But the subsidies will only benefit the French companies and could make life even more difficult for foreign players.
We currently have a Trefis price estimate of $27.50 for General Motors’s stock, but there could be a downside to the price estimate if the company continues to post losses in Europe. We will revise our price estimate after the Q2 earnings are released.Notes:
- Restructuring specialist to be interim CEO of GM’s Opel, July 17, 2012, reuters.com [↩]
- As Opel bleeds red in Europe, could GM sell it off?, July 16, 2012, bbc.co.uk [↩]