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Russia's Sberbank wants GM to pay for dropping the Opel deal

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Russia's Sberbank wants GM to pay for dropping the Opel deal

by Jonathon Ramsey (RSS feed) on Dec 27th 2009 at 5:26PM

It not only takes money to close a deal, it takes money to get close to closing a deal. Sberbank, which was Magna's Russian partner in the bid for Opel, said it assembled 9,000 contract pages during the negotiations. Unless Russian corporate lawyers are that much cheaper than their American counterparts, the associated legal fees could probably be described by the word "heinous."

Sberbank says GM walked away from the deal 48 hours before contracts were due to be signed, and did so without reasonable explanation. In that case, Sberbank believes it is owed for the money it spent in preparation. Company CEO Stefan Gref said "In reality we spent an awful sum, because we had to address complex tasks," and "I hope that we shall be able to settle all issues out of court, but we shall be prepared to defend our position in courts of law."

Unless there was a provision restricting GM's ability to walk away from the deal, it is unclear what kind of chances Sberbank will have in court. By comparison, Magna CEO Frank Stronach said his company's bills from the transaction "weren't material," which could be his way of saying, "water under the bridge." With the other issues on GM's mind right now -- like, oh, Opel and the German government, among others -- Sberbank should probably just grab a place in line.



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