JOHANNESBURG -- South Africa's Delta Motor Corp. said on Wednesday General Motors had resumed negotiations to acquire a majority shareholding in the company.
General Motors has a 49 percent stake in the Eastern Cape-based automotive manufacturer, acquired in 1997 when it returned to South Africa after 11 years. "General Motors Corporation has resumed negotiations with Delta Motor Corporation with a view to potentially acquiring a majority shareholding in the company," said Delta Motor Corp. Managing Director Willie van Wyk in a statement. "Discussions, which commenced in September 2001, were temporarily shelved due to the uncertainty which was created as a result of global events at that time."
Delta was formed in 1986 through a management buyout when GM left South Africa in protest against the then apartheid regime.
GM will join European and Japanese rivals such as BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen and Toyota Motor Corp. who have consolidated their positions in South Africa through either wholly owned subsidiaries or majority shareholding in the local units.
Toyota Motor Corp. took control of Toyota South Africa two years ago. South Africa has become an export-production base for overseas-based car manufacturers.
Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin welcomed the resumption of negotiations as a step in the right direction.
"I believe the potential return of General Motors marks a very important step forward in the South African automobile industry," said Erwin.
"It is a statement of confidence in the achievements of Delta and in the future of South Africa.
Delta employs more than 4,000 people and assembles GM's Opel brand Corsa and Astra cars and Isuzu light trucks. This month, GM awarded Delta a contract to distribute Chevrolet products in South Africa.