General Motors Co. is currently seeking a smaller share (compared to its initial proposal) of Isuzu Motors, which wants to stay independent, an individual familiar to the situation revealed. Initially, GM sought to have a controlling share in the Japanese truck manufacturer that’s equivalent to an investment valued at around $3 billion. GM is eager to tap into the strength of Isuzu in the markets in Southeast Asia as well as its diesel technology. The two companies were once equity partners for 35 years so if they enter a deal, it would not be new ground. At one point, the U.S.-based vehicle manufacturer owned up to 49% in Isuzu prior to selling the holding down, thwarted by Isuzu losses at the time and later being in dire need of cash.
In 2006, its last 7.9% share was sold for $300 million. Since it exited a government-funded bankruptcy restructuring procedure in 2009, GM has started to build new partnerships through initiatives spearheaded by GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. In March, GM concurred to paying $423 million for a 7% stake in French automaker PSA. In August last year, Girsky closed a deal to partner with Korean conglomerate LG Corp in developing electric vehicles together. The current discussions are still very much preliminary, according to the insider.
GM's re-emergence as a strategic partner would help Isuzu with its goal of creating hybrid and other technologies while environmental regulations all over the globe become more restrictive. The two companies also are working together in sales in South Africa and Latin America. With a share of 33.4% in Japan, the stakeholder gets veto powers over boardroom decisions. It would be worth around $3.2 billion at the current share price of Isuzu. The Nikkei business daily reported that GM is seeking a holding of around 10%.