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by Tim Beissmann

Holden’s manufacturing operations in Australia were placed under serious threat during the global financial crisis as parent company General Motors sought to protect its US business, according to documents released by Wikileaks.

Written by an unknown source, the leaked documents date back to June 2009, two weeks after GM filled for bankruptcy in the US. They are believed to have surfaced from a meeting involving then-Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Reuss, at the US Consul in Melbourne.

The documents claim that Mr Reuss was “frustrated that GM had effectively left Holden in the financial wilderness”, and that he believed the local operations would struggle before production of the small Holden Cruze commenced.

“Holden is scraping by in the competitive Australian automotive market, even though financing from its parent company has all but dried up,” the Wikileaks documents reveal.

“While Holden will remain a part of the new GM, the Australian subsidiary was ‘fenced off’ from the parent in an attempt to prevent US tax dollars from flowing out of the United States.”

The documents also claim Holden received help from the Federal Government as it attempted to lend money from Australian banks.

In a short statement, Holden’s Emily Perry told CarAdvice the documents contained a lot of inaccurate information.

“The material appears to notes taken by someone making observations of a conversation – it’s certainly not a statement of fact and includes a number of inaccuracies about potential export volume and our financial arrangements, Ms Perry said.

“Correct information about these programs and other points is publicly available in our financial results and media statements over the last two years.”

According to the documents, Holden’s claim that it played a significant role in GM’s international design team got it over the line to secure continued funding from the parent company.

What do you make of the leaked documents? Do you think Holden came close to ruin during the GFC, or are you sceptical of the claims? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Read CarAdvice’s editorial about the state of Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry.




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