Corp. has done its best to dismiss any question about its commitment to the Asian auto market.
In a few short weeks in December, the No. 1 automaker acquires a 20% stake in Subaru, formalizes its pursuit of ailing Korean automaker Daewoo Motor Co. Ltd. and announces it will buy V-6 engines fromMotor Co. Ltd.
GM's ties withMotor Corp., Motors Ltd. and Suzuki Motor Corp. already are well established. Subaru, a division of Heavy Industries Ltd., must have felt like the ugly duckling as one of the players in Japan that didn't have a partner. Today, it is the belle of the all-wheel-drive ball, bolstered by its successful Outback, a station wagon with attitude. "Subaru" happens to be a Japanese word that means "unite."
GM pays $1.4 billion for its 20% equity stake in Tokyo-basedHeavy, an alliance that calls for Fuji Heavy to remain an independent company with GM as its largest shareholder. Motor Co. Ltd. holds the second-largest share, at 4.1%.
The tie-up will involve the sharing of manufacturing, products and technology. GM gets access to Subaru's all-wheel-drive expertise, strength in the global small-car segment (which it desperately needs), and a stronger foothold in the Asia/Pacific - where it vows to more than double its 4% market share to 10% by 2005. Fuji maintains management autonomy and gains better access to Europe and North America.
Meanwhile in Korea, the national news agency Yonhap reports that GM has offered $5.4 billion to $6.5 billion for Daewoo Motor. Sources say GM would take over all domestic and some foreign operations and does not want to assume any of Daewoo Motor's $9.8 billion in debt. GM would, however, keep open Daewoo's operations in its home market.