GM farewell may be an op­por­tu­nity for new in­vestor

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Roy Cokayne

THE POS­SI­BIL­ITY of a new in­vestor tak­ing over the part of Gen­eral Mo­tors’ (GM) ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in Port El­iz­a­beth that was not sold to Ja­pan-based Isuzu is be­ing ex­plored.

Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa con­firmed this in Par­lia­ment last week in re­ply to a ques­tion, adding that the part of the GM fa­cil­ity not sold to Isuzu could be used by a new in­vestor “to pro­duce other ve­hi­cles, pos­si­bly in another mar­ket seg­ment or as a con­tract man­ager”. Ramaphosa’s com­ments fol­low GM’s an­nounce­ment last month of its de­ci­sion to dis­in­vest from South Africa and stop man­u­fac­tur­ing and sales of Chevro­let in the do­mes­tic mar­ket.

About 589 em­ploy­ees out of GMSA’s to­tal work­force of about 1 500 are ex­pected to be af­fected by the mo­tor man­u­fac­turer’s dis­in­vest­ment de­ci­sion.

How­ever, it is un­clear what pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties Ramaphosa was re­fer­ring to, be­cause Isuzu ap­pears likely to use the en­tire Struan­dale plant for its fu­ture op­er­a­tions.

Denise van Huyssteen, the gen­eral man­ager com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Africa and the Mid­dle East for GM, yes­ter­day con­firmed the sale of the Struan­dale plant to Isuzu Mo­tors was sub­ject to the re­quired lo­cal reg­u­la­tory ap­provals and that Isuzu in­tended to pur­chase the en­tire Struan­dale plant.

“The Isuzu Mo­tors South Africa op­er­a­tions, sub­ject to the rel­e­vant ap­provals be­ing met, is planned to be ef­fec­tive from Jan­uary 2018,” she said.

Sid­well Medupe, a spokesper­son for the trade and in­dus­try de­part­ment, said the de­part­ment was con­tin­u­ing en­gage­ments with GM South Africa re­gard­ing their exit from the coun­try and look­ing at a va­ri­ety of is­sues, in­clud­ing the sale of their plant and equip­ment as well as the im­pact on jobs. “Un­for­tu­nately we are not in a po­si­tion to share de­tails of such en­gage­ments un­til some­thing tan­gi­ble gets re­alised,” he said.

Medupe said the de­part­ment was also not in any po­si­tion at this stage to pub­licly talk about in­vestors, in­clud­ing Isuzu, be­cause it was yet to have tan­gi­ble or con­crete com­mit­ments. “We do not want to prej­u­dice any­one or cre­ate un­due ex­pec­ta­tions,” he said.

Nico Ver­meulen, the di­rec­tor of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers of South Africa, said yes­ter­day that it was the first he had heard of a pos­si­ble new in­vestor us­ing part of GM’s pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties, but stressed ve­hi­cle com­pa­nies did fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies on an on­go­ing ba­sis in South Africa.

Ver­meulen con­firmed three com­pa­nies had done de­tailed eval­u­a­tions over the last two years about us­ing South Africa as a base for sales into the do­mes­tic and ex­port mar­kets.

In terms of GM’s dis­in­vest­ment plan, Ja­pan-based Isuzu Mo­tors, through newly es­tab­lished com­pany Isuzu Mo­tors South Africa, plans to ac­quire GM’s light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions in Struan­dale in Port El­iz­a­beth and con­tinue man­u­fac­tur­ing the Isuzu KB and medium com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles and heavy duty trucks in Port El­iz­a­beth.

Isuzu Mo­tors SA will also ac­quire GM’s re­main­ing 30 per­cent share­hold­ing in the Isuzu Truck South Africa joint ven­ture and take over con­trol of GM’s parts dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre and ve­hi­cle con­ver­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.