BMW Opens the Bidding at $24 Billion?

May 14, 2009
2009 BMW Z4 sDrive30i

2009 BMW Z4 sDrive30i

Everything has its price--cars, politicians. And while a small pile of cash could make you the owner of car brands like Rover ($15, sold by BMW to Ford) or Chrysler (we think Fiat took them out for a steak dinner), BMW has a much higher sense of its own self-worth.

So if you're considering a hot pursuit of the BMW/Rolls/MINI empire, you'll need some bank--$24 billion, for starters.

That's the figure quoted by BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer, who yesterday reaffirmed his company's interest in working on a limited basis with cross-country rival Daimler AG. As Automotive News quotes, "The BMW brand, which one study has valued at $24 billion, must not be diluted or the brand identity damaged."

On the latter point, Mercedes-Benz and Smart and BMW and MINI working together could save some money, analysts have suggested, and Reithofer echoed comments by Daimler's Dieter Zetsche that the luxury automakers have much to talk about.

BMW is said to have approached Alfa Romeo about platform-sharing and cost savings with MINI, but nixed the idea. BMW also shares engine production and technology with Peugeot, which in an un-Gallic way has stayed out of the current wave of grand alliances.

For any BMW alliance to work, the majority owners in the Quandt family will have to be pleased. They're said not to be keen on doing anything to dilute one of the world's great brands.

Or could they have more in mind? Does a CEO floating a potential valuation effectively put the company on the market? BMW's never been as easy to hook up with as some car companies have--but at least now the world knows what it'll take to get them to respond to a flirtation.

[Automotive News--but you'll pay]

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