Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Idle GM plants spark interest from automakers

Prospective buyers eyeing sites considered difficult to unload

Foreign and domestic automakers have expressed interest in buying factories being sold by the former General Motors Corp. as part of its bankruptcy case.

Al Koch, chief restructuring officer of the old GM, would not disclose the prospective buyers or sites in a recent interview with The Detroit News. But the nibbles illustrate a surprising level of interest in properties -- including a $25 million proposal for 220 acres of land in Flint -- previously thought to be too large, too old and, in some cases, too polluted to sell.

Any completed deals could generate revenue for GM creditors who lost billions when GM filed for bankruptcy, and for communities that are losing tax revenue and jobs as the properties sit idle.

Koch's push to sell the assets left behind when the new General Motors Co. emerged from bankruptcy in July will intensify in mid-September when he plans to meet with members of the Obama administration's auto task force, which is overseeing GM's restructuring.

Koch will talk to the task force about possible uses for the properties and shuttered facilities and about environmental remediation at sites controlled by the old GM -- now known as Motors Liquidation Co.

While Koch would not identify the automakers or the plants being considered, experts say the most logical sites are four GM assembly plants, including Pontiac Assembly, where the factory's 2,800 workers make the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra. The plant is supposed to close in October.

The others are located in Wilmington, Del., Shreveport, La., and Moraine, Ohio. The old GM also has five stamping and six powertrain plants.

Industry analysts said any of the assembly plants would give a foreign automaker, perhaps a Chinese or Indian company, entry into the U.S. market or might interest Chrysler Group LLC, which will produce cars made in conjunction with its new partner, Italy's Fiat SpA...More

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