Opel buy-out unlikely as Mercedes parent distances itself from takeover rumours
25 February 2009

Daimler has no interest in purchasing Opel, a senior company executive has confirmed.

"A takeover of Opel is not on the agenda,” Daimler board member Thomas Weber told Reuters earlier today. “That also goes for Volvo or Saab.”

Industry analyst Max Warburton, of Bernstein Research, recently published a report suggesting that buying Opel would be a good way for Daimler to broaden its expertise in small car production.

Warburton estimates that the premium car maker has lost more than €7bn (£6.2bn) on the A-class and Smart. Sales of vehicles in its core areas – premium saloons and trucks – have suffered significantly over recent months, but the company has been slow to announce plans to reduce cashburn and restructure.

The German government is not keen to take responsibility for Opel from General Motors, argues Warburton, and would welcome a third-party owner and facilitate the transfer.

BMW has also been cited as potential saviour of Opel. Its move toward fuel-efficient saloons and smaller cars, which now show foresight as environmental pressures mount on its high-performance range, has given it considerable experience in the small car sector that it would not wish to duplicate.

However, analysts believe that the cost structure of the Mini is now barely viable; the car is BMW’s lowest-volume platform but also its lowest-priced car. This means that it could still benefit from adopting true low-cost mass-market manufacturing techniques.

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