LONDON – General Motors (GM) Corp Chief Executive Rick Wagoner insisted on Tuesday he planned to keep his job even if the U.S. carmaker strikes a three-way alliance with rivals Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co..
"I have no intention of leaving my position at GM. We are in the middle of a huge turnaround that's getting a lot of momentum, and we really need to stay focused on that," he told reporters when asked if he would step down should Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of both Renault and Nissan, get a seat on GM's board.
The three automakers agreed last week to review the benefits of a potential alliance and gave themselves 90 days to come up with a deal.
Wagoner declined to give any more details about the talks after what he called a "cordial" dinner with Ghosn in Detroit on Friday at which they shared a meal and California wine.
Pressed about a possible deal, Wagoner told reporters at the British International Motor Show: "If there is value to be created and it's the best option for GM shareholders, we'd be glad to do it, as we have shown time and again."
Wagoner told CNBC television in an interview that there were no alliance talks with Japan's Toyota (TM), but he declined to comment on suggestions GM tie up with Ford.
"We haven't had any discussions with Toyota on this matter," he said, adding; "I don't have any plans to have any discussions with Toyota on this matter."
But he added the board would have to look at any alternative plan that would be presented to it.
Asked about a possible link with Ford (F), Wagoner said: "There is a lot of speculation on every possibly conceivable alternative, but really our first job is to get our business turned around. That is our primary focus."
EYES ON MIDDLE EAST
Wagoner was in London to attend the unveiling of the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa sub-compact car, which hits European showrooms in October. GM is counting on it to boost sales volume and revenue in Europe.
He said GM had no plans at this stage to roll the car out in the United States as well. "But obviously in this day and age you can't rule anything out. (As) gas prices keep going up, I think the prospects might grow," he said.
Turmoil in the Middle East was boosting energy prices and could affect consumer sentiment, he said.
"It is clear that those kinds of events are pretty unsettling in an environment of already fairly high oil prices. We are watching it with a lot of close attention. We haven't seen any big impact yet, but we have to be on our toes there."
Asked whether GM would make money in Europe this year for the first time since 1999, he said: "That remains our focus."
General Motors is in the process of cutting its European workforce by nearly a fifth to address slack markets and ferocious competition that are keeping pressure on prices and margins.
It has also announced it will close a delivery van plant in Portugal at the year end and drop one shift at its Ellesmere Port car plant in Britain. Asked if more steps might be needed to reduce GM manufacturing capacity in Europe, he said:
"Those are pretty big moves on top of the very significant moves made over the last couple of years. Let's get those executed, and then we'll have to see, but competitiveness is an ongoing battle in Europe, in the U.S. and really around the world."
He said the global car industry still had around 20 percent too much manufacturing capacity.
"There is a lot of overcapacity around the world. We have been doing a pretty good job of taking our capacity out, but when we do, someone else just seems to add it," he said.