I almost missed it, but here is the article I had been waiting for about the big question now confronting the German government. With Opel allegedly only having about a month’s worth of cash left – should it stay or should it go? We have recently touched upon this affair here, although that previous treatment was shaped around the emergence of an Opel fan club whose members certainly see both a notable past as well as a promising future as perfectly good reasons for the German State to intervene to help see the car company through.
Wolfgang Münchau, of both the Financial Times and Financial Times Deutschland, although evidently German himself, clearly does not class himself among that group of Opel fans. His commentary piece is cheerily entitled Have a good trip into bankruptcy!, and he begins it with the generic tale of what has happened to him at many a rent-a-car stand in Germany: sorry, the friendly lady behind the counter informs him, but we’re all out of our VW, Mercedes, and BMW models for you to choose from, how about that Opel there in the corner? Münchau says that, at such times, he is always sorely tempted to simply rent a bicycle instead.
OK, so it’s evident from the start that Opel can expect no favors from this particular FT/FTD columnist. Unfortunately, the analysis that ensues about why the German government should just stay hands-off and let the firm go meet its demise is precise and mostly incontrovertible. Opel does not embody any sort of key technology that would need to be preserved by keeping the firm alive. (Actually, although Münchau does not bring it up, even if Opel did possess some snazzy proprietal technology, it would inevitably be owned by the parent company, GM. More on this below.) And its closing would not overwhelmingly hit any particular region or industrial sector, he writes. (I have my doubts about the former; Rüsselsheim, a German city in Hesse near Frankfurt and the Rhein and Main rivers where the main Opel factory-complex is housed, would become quite a forlorn place if Opel were to shut its doors.) (more…)