General Motors is in talks with independent distributor Inchcape about the possibility of taking over the Holden business in Australia, according to new reports.
The Financial Review is reporting that Inchcape - a UK-listed company already behind the Subaru, Peugeot and Citroen brands in Australia - has engaged an accounting firm to analyse Holden's books, after approaching GM about the possibility of taking on distribution of the iconic Australian car company.
Inchcape was reportedly keen to discover if GM was determined to continue its presence in Australia in the wake of falling Holden sales since the closure of its local manufacturing facilities in 2017. According to the reports, no deal has been done, but discussions have begun.
For its part, Holden has outright denied the reports, passing on a global comment from parent company GM. But CarsGuide has heard from multiple sources that staff and management don't believe the rumours hold water.
"Under the leadership of Dave Buttner, who was appointed in August last year, we are turning around the Holden business, growing sales, re-engaging and re-energising our distribution network and launching exciting vehicles like the all-new Acadia," a spokesperson said. "We are fully focused on supporting Dave in building a strong Holden for the future, as it remains an important part of GM's business."
There have been some question marks over Holden's future in Australia, with sales continuing to fall on a monthly basis. The brand's sales woes show no immediate signs of abating, with the former homegrown hero reporting another fall in monthly sales in January, this time recording 4167 sales, down 27 per cent on the previous year, when it shifted 5719 sales, and less than half the vehicles it sold in January 2015.
And parent brand GM itself is on a cost-cutting mission, promising some US$6b in intended savings by 2020 by closing seven manufacturing facilities in the USA, and sacking around 15 per cent of its American workforce.
But the news will surely come as a surprise to some in the Holden enterprise, with the brand having only just appointed Toyota Australia's former boss, Dave Buttner, to the role of chairman and managing director in July.
"I am honoured and energised by this incredible opportunity to lead Holden, a company which is part of the fabric of our country," Buttner said at the time.
When contacted by CarsGuide for comment on the possibility of taking over the Holden business, an Inchcape spokesperson said, "We are always assessing a range of opportunities and initiatives in support of our Ignite strategy and we do not comment on speculation."
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