Billionaire Slim’s Europe Plans On Hold As Kpn Talks End

Russia will be integrated into GM Europe starting Jan. 1. GM Russia has been part of Shanghai-based GM International Operations. The shift places management of the Opel brand, which is sold in Europe and Russia, under the same roof. It also comes as GM Europe and GM International Operations have undergone leadership changes this year. GM Russia President Jim Bovenzi will be reassigned to Detroit headquarters as executive director of global localization strategy, giving GM Europe President Karl-Thomas Neumann responsibility for business in the country. GM hired Neumann this year as president of GM Europe and CEO of Opel. It also recently reassigned GM International Operations President Tim Lee to chairman of GM China and hired Volvo executive Stefan Jacoby as the new leader of the GMIO unit. Lee continues to serve as executive vice president of global manufacturing. Neumann said one likely benefit would be to increase Opels market share in Russia, where GM also sells Chevrolet and Cadillac. All forecasts point out that Russia will become the biggest market in Europe in the next years. Opel enjoys a high reputation in Russia, Neumann said in a statement. But GM disclosed Thursday that its sales in Russia fell 18.7% in the third quarter from a year earlier. The company also announced that Andy Dunstan, who was executive director of sales for central and eastern Europe and international operations, will start leading the Russia unit on Nov.

Insight: Europe’s bold vision hits trouble

Our economic future depends on the future of Europe,” Gabriel said. “We are not helping other countries just because we’re good people, because we want to soothe our conscience and be nice. We are also helping because it serves our own interests. We need to stabilize Europe because otherwise joblessness and growth problems will spread to our country.” The comments by Gabriel, who is expected to become deputy chancellor and take a top cabinet post under Merkel, suggested that a new ‘grand coalition’ government could adopt a softer, more conciliatory tone towards struggling southern euro members like Greece and Portgual. During the election campaign, the SPD accused Merkel of failing to make the case for European rescues with the German public and insisting too much on austerity at the expense of growth and jobs. Some of Berlin’s partners, including big neighbor France, are holding out hope that the entry of the SPD into her government could lead to changes in Merkel’s European policy, but if there is a shift, it is likely to be more rhetorical than substantive. The SPD quietly dropped its support for common euro zone bond issuance last year, bringing it closer to Merkel. Like the chancellor, it opposes debt-financed stimulus programs to help southern Europe and broadly supports her approach of demanding reforms in exchange for aid. Gabriel said in his speech that Germany must “fight for Europe”, pointing out that 40 percent German exports go to euro zone partners and 60 percent to the broader EU. “How would our country look, our industry, our unemployment levels, if this wasn’t the case, if Europe, the main destination for German products, was brought to its knees?” he said. In the coalition talks, which are due to begin on Wednesday and could last a month or more, Gabriel said the SPD would push for stricter regulation of banks and a stronger contribution of the financial industry to the costs of Europe’s crisis.

`Tough Ride

AT&T Inc., which owns 9 percent of America Movil, has also eyed investments in Europe, saying the continent is on the cusp of a boom in demand for high-speed wireless Internet service. KPN rival Ziggo NV (ZIGGO) has also deflected a foreign takeover attempt. The cable-television company, based in Ultrecht, Netherlands , said yesterday that shareholder Liberty Global Plc (LBTYA) made an inadequate offer for the rest of its shares, and its uncertain whether it will receive an improved bid. America Movil hasnt made a decision on what to do with its KPN stake and will study Dutch regulations to determine if its options are limited because of its withdrawn tender offer, said Arturo Elias , Slims spokesman. The company didnt drop its KPN bid to pursue another offer, and the decision isnt a negotiating ploy with KPN, he said. Our position is firm and serious, he said in a phone interview. Numerous Discussions In a statement, KPN said America Movils offer undervalued the company and didnt do enough to protect minority shareholders. The KPN boards werent able during their numerous discussions to obtain an acceptable proposal on the content, firmness, duration and enforceability of America Movils commitments to KPNs stakeholders, the company said. Speaking on a conference call today, Chief Executive Officer Eelco Blok wouldt comment on the price KPN was seeking during negotiations. There is of course a possibility that well get back at the table again, he said. Its difficult to assess at the moment how the relationship with America Movil will develop. Slim directed America Movils highest-ranking executives to the talks, including CEO Daniel Hajj, Chief Financial Officer Carlos Garcia-Moreno and Elias, who is director of strategic alliances for the companys fixed-line unit. Slim, 73, didnt personally take part in the negotiations, said Elias, who like Hajj is a son-in-law of the billionaire. Telefonica Deal The companies failed to reach an agreement even after America Movil helped KPN get a better price from Telefonica SA (TEF) for its German unit, E-Plus. After discussions with Slims company, Madrid-based Telefonica agreed in August to raise its bid for E-Plus to 8.55 billion euros from 8.1 billion euros. The transaction is awaiting regulatory approval.

The ECB shows no sign of taking such drastic action. But officials see a moment arriving soon when the ECB will put pressure on member states. That moment is the review of bank assets that the ECB will undertake next year as the new single supervisor of the euro zone banking system. The Asset Quality Review is expected to be a rigorous exercise in contrast to previous stress tests. To an extent, the ECB’s reputation is on the line. A tough review will show it means business. If the review lays bare big holes in certain banks, the pressure will be on the home countries to press ahead not only with banking union, but with fiscal steps that will allow them to coordinate budget policy more effectively. “Draghi and Merkel are in a staring match,” said an EU official, describing a situation in which the ECB president wants member states to act while German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as the most powerful leader, proceeds with characteristic caution. “If the ECB decides to be really tough in the asset quality review, it’s going to be a wake-up call delivered by the ECB to the member states.” For Draghi, an independent central banker, it is a challenge since he cannot be seen to veer too readily into territory reserved for political leaders. Monetary policy is his game. And for Van Rompuy it is complicated by the fact that his mandate as European Council president ends in a year’s time. The original roadmap was expected to take up to 10 years to complete, but if Van Rompuy’s successor does not buy into it, it could meet a very immediate roadblock. The report the four presidents’ drafted is close to Draghi’s heart, aides say.