GM: Volkswagen CEO comments on Opel ‘regrettable’ image

GM Co on Wednesday called comments made by Volkswagen AG’s chief executive about a possible sale of the US automaker’s Opel unit “regrettable.”

General Motors Co., the automaker that has lost $14.5 billion in Europe since 1999, said Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn is stoking speculation that GM’s German-based Opel unit is for sale.

“In Wednesday’s edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn commented on rumors regarding Opel, which continues a regrettable pattern of fanning speculation as Opel makes solid progress in its restructuring, in generating improved operating results,” GM said in a statement.

German magazines Der Spiegel and Auto Bild reported last month that GM may be considering a sale of Opel.

“Akerson is fed up with Opel, and the turnaround isn’t gaining traction,” said a person familiar with the GM CEO’s thinking who declined to be named.

“He is trying to think of all possibilities to improve performance. But a sale is wishful thinking.”

GM said in May its European operations would have broken even in the first quarter without a $395 million charge to goodwill. The carmaker lost $1.8 billion in Europe last year.
On Wednesday, GM again did not specifically address whether Opel was for sale or not, saying it has a long-standing policy of not commenting on speculation. One thing is clear – nothing is official …