Fleet News

Rumours prove amazingly unrife

'WHO will buy whom' speculation among manufacturers is always rife at international motor shows, but it was significantly absent from this year's Geneva gathering. And General Motor's president and chief operating officer Rick Wagoner did his best to further dampen speculation - despite in-depth questioning from journalists - claiming that the buoyancy of both the North American and European car markets meant manufacturers were not putting up 'for sale' signs.

Although he would not rule out acquisitions and mergers as opportunities arose, he said: 'We are focusing our efforts on Daewoo. The consolidation phase within the industry will go on, but the strength of markets, particularly in Europe, North America and Asia, is coming back gives companies the chance to stay independent.' Further alliances and partnerships - a favoured General Motors route - was also possible, said Wagoner, who refuted speculation that the global giant had bid for BMW.

Although he added: 'We spend more time now than we ever have looking at the competitive environment, but I don't think any major deal will happen soon. Companies move when times are tough.' The only known issue is that debt-ridden Korean manufacturer Daewoo will have a new owner by mid-year following its decision to conduct an auction for itself among potential buyers.

Meanwhile, BMW bosses pounded the 'Rover is doing well' drum and a Volkswagen board member went as far as to suggest 'no one would buy Rover' and added: 'Anyway, BMW says it is not for sale.' However, there remains doubt as to whether Fiat can remain independent for much longer, whether PSA (Peugeot Citroen) can remain a European-only player for much longer and whether Mitsubishi can plough a go-it-alone furrow.

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