TRAVERSE CITY, MI – If there’s a potential new deal involvingselling a controlling interest in its Adam Opel European subsidiary, count International out.
GM Chairman Dan Akerson emphatically has denied reports Opel is for sale.
CEO Don Walker tells Ward’s in an interview following a Wednesday address at the Management Briefing Seminars that he’s dead set against Magna joining the ranks of traditional auto makers.
Walker was co-CEO in 2009 of Canada’s largest auto supplier with Siegfried Wolf, who has since departed, when Magna and Russian investment partner OAO Sberbank proposed purchasing 55% of Opel. GM would have retained a 35% stake and employees the rest.
At the time, GM had just exited bankruptcy, and some factions backed the Magna deal.
But Walker says he opposed it. “I was not a big believer in the Opel deal, and I’m happy it didn’t happen,” he says. “I didn’t want to compete with our (auto maker) customers.”
Wolf left Magna in November 2009 to join OAO, leaving Walker as the lone CEO.
Magna is a contract assembler for auto makers at its Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik plant in Graz, Austria. Current and past customers includePeugeot Citroen, , , Saab and Mercedes-Benz.
At Steyr and elsewhere in Magna, “we can build as few as five vehicles and up to 50,000 to 100,000 a year,” Walker says of varying customer orders. The operation can engineer, validate and manufacture complete vehicles.
Looking ahead, he sees an easing in the flurry of supplier consolidations that characterized the economic downturn between 2008 and 2010.
Future consolidation will rely more on how suppliers position themselves to capitalize on the global trend toward common platforms. Walker believes Magna already is a leader in this area.
Although he’s concerned about the potential impact of the debt crisis in the U.S. and several European nations, Walker remains upbeat.
“I look ahead five years and hope that over the long haul things will steady themselves,” he says. “It’s nothing like the meltdown of 2009.”