Edward Lapham is Executive Editor of Automotive News.
GM's salvation is at hand.
Now that billionaire investor and gambling mogul Kirk Kerkorian wants to own nearly 9 percent of General Motors, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. After all, Kerkorian is a well-known corporate white knight and Mr. Fix-It with a proven track record of helping ailing automakers get back on their feet.
Like Chrysler Corp.
Officially, this is just an investment. You know - a chance for a little good old-fashioned buy-low/sell-high profit taking. That must mean Kerkorian thinks GM's profitability and North American cost issues can be resolved.
That would be good news. And if Warren Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway investment company jump in, it might be time for dealers, employees, suppliers and shareholders to turn cartwheels, pump their fists in the air and do high-fives.
But wasn't that Kerkorian's rationale for buying Chrysler stock in 1990? It was supposed to be just an investment back before his 1995 takeover attempt.
Now that GM is wallowing in junk-bond status, there may be some marketing and promotional synergies with Kerkorian's other ventures and expertise that could help turbocharge GM's recovery.
For example, GM has several fallow factories that might make dandy casinos with a little refurbishing. To get a gaming license, the automaker might need to acquire a tribe of American Indians or at least sign a treaty with one as part of its alliance strategy.
CEO Rick Wagoner, who now is overseeing North America, also ought to consider putting slot machines in all dealerships. After all, dealers are risk takers and gamblers. And it won't take much to get consumers to play because they're already trained to push a hot button at dealerships to win a car.
Remember, Kerkorian doesn't always win. Chrysler CEO Bob Eaton figured out how to handle Kerkorian in 1995.
Come to think of it, Wagoner might want to give Eaton a call.