It was a shocker last week when General Motors Co. lawyers began circulating a new affidavit by ousted CEO Fritz Henderson that the company may use against dealers in arbitration.
Making sense of it requires the kind of logic and insight used by Humphrey Bogart in his role as detective Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon.
Henderson's affidavit, a copy of which was obtained by Automotive News, essentially repeats the story he told to Congress last year: The dealer cuts that GM instituted in 2009 could save the company $2.6 billion.
OK, it's a consistent story -- even if it was picked apart by critics familiar with GM's distribution process.
GM doesn't usually like to rely on former employees to make the company's case, especially former employees who've been shown the door. There can be too much downside risk.
But for the new GM, using Henderson makes sense. The current administration is trying to project the image of "we're making nice with dealers," so why not have a rejected CEO stand toe-to-toe with rejected dealers?
It's in the plot of The Maltese Falcon: Blame the dead guy. Henderson is gone. And having landed a job with the AlixPartners consulting group, he can continue to be a lightning rod for dealer complaints about his numbers.
All this, while GM offers reinstatement to 666 dealers and says it will negotiate with hundreds of others. But why would Henderson bother to make a return performance against the rejected dealers, who were whacked at the government's behest?
Ah, GM's board may have given Henderson the ziggy, but he's still a GM loyalist. And he obviously believes the data and analyses that were prepared for him before he testified to Congress.
It's the stuff that columns are made of.