GM Pulls Plug on Pact Talks With Renault-Nissan

05 October 2006

DETROIT: In a two-fingered salute to General Motors' interventionist shareholder Kirk Kerkorian, the automaker's chief executive Rick Wagoner on Wednesday pulled the plug on GM's alliance discussions with Renault and Nissan.

Kerkorian, a Nevada-based octogenarian billionaire and GM's largest single shareholder, had urged the talks on a reportedly reluctant Wagoner - applying further pressure earlier this week by announcing he intended to raise his existing 9.9% stake in the firm.

At a lengthy board meeting on Wednesday, GM directors unanimously decided they could not allow the Renault-Nissan alliance to take a 20% stake in the US giant - thereby becoming its largest stockholder - without digging far deeper into its wallet to reflect its degree of control.

Proclaimed Wagoner: "The value was heavily skewed towards Nissan. We needed to look at good value for GM shareholders. Renault-Nissan made it clear they would not pay any market premium, nor compensate GM to balance the disproportionate impact of expected synergies".

It is not thought, however that Renault-Nissan ceo Carlos Ghosn is overly distraught at GM's decision, which now leaves him free to explore a similar alliance with Ford Motor Company which reportedly, like Charles Dickens' Barkis, "is willing".

Kerkorian's investment company Tracinda said a deal would have given the automaker "substantial synergies and cost savings", adding "we regret that the board did not obtain its own independent evaluation of the alliance."

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff