Despite some protests and concerns, yesterday afternoon the shareholders of Canadian auto parts manufacturer Magna voted to approve the “arrangement” between Frank Stronach and Oleg Deripaska – the young Kremlin loyalist and owner of Rusal.
So far there have been some very interesting reactions in the Canadian press. Diane Francis has a fascinating comment on the deal which opens with the opinion that the Russia gambit “will be either a home run or go down as one of the most naive business transactions ever.” Derek DeCloet at the Globe and Mail speculates that the Russia vote was made out of fear on behalf of investors to tap into the Asian car market. He argues that if this goes bad, shareholders are only getting what they deserve:
So here’s a prediction about how this will play out. Russia will prove a modest success – but only a modest one – for Magna. When Mr. Stronach dies, Mr. Deripaska will make his play for control. He’ll offer a large premium to buy the multiple-voting shares owned by management and the Stronach family. He’ll offer the class A minority shareholders nothing, because he doesn’t have to offer them anything. Those shareholders will jump up and down and curse and say they’re getting screwed. But they’ll deserve little sympathy; they had a chance to try to do something to improve their rights as owners, and they passed. Fear made them do it. Turns out they believed a future without their new Russian partner would be worse than one with him.