So in October 2005, GM sold its 20 percent of Fuji Heavy. It sold part on the open market. But the biggest chunk, 8.7 percent, went to GM's top rival, Toyota Motor Corp.
For Toyota, the purchase was an opportunity to build Camrys at the underused Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. assembly plant in West Lafayette, Ind. In one fell swoop, Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe grabbed a brand with a distinct niche in the market, plus extra production capacity for its bread-and-butter model in the United States.
On paper, GM took a bath on the Subaru sale, just as it had on the Fiat deal. It recouped just $727 million, or less than half of the $1.5 billion at which it had valued Fuji Heavy on its books.
But GM wanted cash, not paper assets. All of that $727 million was cash.
In March 2006, GM sold 17.4 percent of Suzuki Motor Corp., leaving it with just 3 percent. That was the big payoff. GM raised about $2 million in cash, roughly what it spent to get out of Fiat.
GM retained 3 percent of the small-car specialist. Suzuki remains GM's partner in GM-Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. in Korea and in CAMI, an assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario.
Exit from Isuzu
In April 2006, GM followed those sales by ditching its final 7.9 percent stake in Isuzu Motors Ltd. GM had first bought 34.2 percent of the truckmaker in 1971. The stake grew as high as 49 percent before GM trimmed its holding as part of a restructuring of the loss-ridden Isuzu. The sale raised $300 million.
Again, Toyota's Watanabe swooped in for assets GM couldn't afford to keep. In November 2006, he bought 5.6 percent of Isuzu.
This was an even greater prize. Toyota desperately needed diesel-engine technology to compete in Europe. Isuzu had not only the technology but also the engineers. Now the engineers who developed GM's successful Duramax diesel engines are available to Toyota.