February 23, 2009 / 2:16 PM / 9 years ago

GM on right track with Canada plan: Clement

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian arm of General Motors Corp is on the right track as far as its restructuring plan is concerned, but serious discussions will still be required before the struggling automaker qualifies for emergency aid, Canada’s Industry Minister said on Monday.

The Canadian wings of GM and Chrysler presented their proposals last Friday to Ottawa to back requests for repayable loans to help them survive the steep industry downturn.

“We have to go through their numbers to see exactly what they have planned for the Canadian plants... but we’ve certainly got the skeletal structure of what they’re going to do,” Tony Clement told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp when asked about the GM plan.

Clement also said he was encouraged by the additional information forwarded to him by Chrysler Canada over the weekend.

Chrysler, controlled by Cerberus Capital Management LP, had originally sent Ottawa a copy of the “long-term viability plan” it had submitted to the U.S. Treasury earlier in the week in support of its request for aid from Washington.

In a cover letter, it said it did not break out a separate Canadian plan because the North American auto industry is totally integrated.

Clement said the company had since provided more details about the models it what it would produce at its plants in Windsor and Brampton, Ontario, as well as more specifics about its overall strategy in Canada, where about 25 percent of its manufacturing capacity is located.

“I think that they (GM and Chrysler) realize they are at the precipice of nonexistence as a sector, or at least a North American sector, and so I think they’re looking at this seriously,” Clement said in an earlier interview with CTV on Monday. “They’re coming forward with some serious plans and we’ll be evaluating them over the next few days.”

Both automakers have said they would ask Canada to give them assistance that was in proportion to their manufacturing capacity in the country.

GM pledged to maintain 17 percent to 20 percent of its production in Canada.

In their plans, neither company put a specific dollar amount to what they would ask Canada to provide. However, GM said it was asking Washington for up to C$30 billion ($24 billion) while Chrysler said it was asking the U.S. Treasury for up to $9 billion in loans, or about C$11 billion.

In late December, Canada said it would provide C$4 billion in emergency loans to the cash-strapped automakers. GM Canada is eligible for loans of up to C$3 billion under the package, while Chrysler Canada is eligible for up to C$1 billion.

The Canadian arm of Ford Motor Co has not asked for immediate assistance.

Clement said he was keeping in close contact with the province of Ontario, which has committed to funding about one-third of any Canadian aid package, as well as the Obama administration in the United States on the file.

($1=$1.25 Canadian)

Reporting by John McCrank and David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway

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