GM opens China plant
SHANGHAI, China - General Motors last week opened its $1.52 billion joint-venture plant here, although it has become apparent the plant's capacity of 100,000 Buicks a year probably will not be achieved.
Three Buick Regal derivatives priced from $36,585 to $48,780 will be built. Analysts say things have changed since the venture was negotiated two years ago - notably a government ban on officials below the rank of vice minister using a car at state expense, a move that hits the plant's target market.
Don Hackworth, GM's manufacturing czar, dismissed as 'completely unfounded speculation' reports that GM might produce Opels at the plant.
LITHIA: NO DEAL
MEDFORD, Ore. - Lithia Motors Inc., a public dealer group based here, denied published reports that it is about to be acquired by United Auto Group Inc., a New York-based public dealer group. Said Lithia Chairman Sidney De-Boer: 'No acquisition agreement exists, nor are negotiations being held.'
EXEC: NOT GUILTY
DETROIT - Auto supply executive Rafael Antonio Fernandez, last week pleaded not guilty to charges that he embezzled from a former employer. He was released on bond and was ordered to appear today, Dec. 21, before 46th District Court Judge Susan Moiseev in Southfield, Mich., for a pre-exam conference. The complaints stem from his days at Irausa American Co., the Southfield sales arm of Spanish interiors supplier Grupo Antolin Irausa. A spokesman for Delphi Automotive Systems, where Fernandez directs North American interior sales, said Fernandez remains an employee in good standing.
BORG TURBO DEAL
CHICAGO - Borg-Warner Automotive Inc. expects to become a leader in turbocharger sales from its planned acquisition of Kuhlman Corp. of Savannah, Ga.
The deal, announced last week, and the acquisition this month of German turbocharger maker AG Kuhnle, Knopp & Kausch, would give Borg-Warner Automotive 27 percent of world turbocharger sales.
Chicago-based Borg-Warner will pay $660 million for Kuhlman, and assume more than $80 million of its debt.
SONIC BUYS GROUPS
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Sonic Automotive Inc., a publicly held dealer group, will acquire two dealership groups for $31.2 million in cash and stock. They are Newsome Dealership Group, which has stores in Florence and Columbia, S.C., and Global Imports of Atlanta. Their combined annual revenue is about $195 million. Sonic also declared a two-for-one stock split that will take effect Jan. 4 and will be paid Jan. 25.