Tuesday, Dec. 05, 2006, 07:00 PM UPDATED 11:59 AMBy Nick Zulovich
DETROIT — Now that GMAC is no longer linked exclusively to General Motors, it plans to grow its portfolio, moving from defense to offense. While plans are not set in stone, one opportunity the company plans to pursue is expanding its indirect auto lending to non-branded stores owned by dealers who also have GM-branded stores, a company spokesman said Tuesday.
What about non-affiliated independent dealerships? Courting new business with independent dealers is also a possibility for GMAC, Mike Stoller, a GMAC spokesperson, told SubPrime Auto Finance News Tuesday.
Referring to a recent report where Sanjiv Khattri, GMAC's chief financial officer, indicated the company will expand its relationships with used-car dealerships, Stoller explained, "Sanjiv's point is that GMAC, in the context of its new status as a stand-alone independent credit profiled company, will look to the used-car space as a logical extension of its current business.
"GMAC has not been a meaningful player in buying used-car financing, but with a lower cost of funds and greater balance sheet capacity, we can move toward a position where we can enhance our existing dealer relationships by offering this service," he continued.
Stoller went on to say that it would be a natural extension for GMAC to establish relationships with used-car dealers who are not affiliated with GM.
"GMAC intends to play a significant role in GM's turnaround plan both from a revenue generation perspective as well as offering products and services to GM dealers," Stoller explained.
"With that said, GMAC is also in a position to now grow its own footprint," he continued. "A great majority of those same GM dealers also own non-GM stores. With a competitive cost of funds and a historical reputation for outstanding customer service, GMAC will look to do more non-GM auto financing."
While the company has expansion plans in the works, Stoller said no set agenda has been created that offers specific goals or targets. The growth will not just be limited to North America, but to all 39 countries in which the company does business.
"GMAC is committed to its dealers and their business needs. We intend to do everything we've done in the past and hope to do more. Providing dealers with the tools to run successful businesses remains our top priority. It's a tough market, and we aim to give dealers the tools they need to be successful. When they are successful, we are successful," Stoller said.
"Dealers have been overwhelmingly positive with regard to the transaction," he added. "They understand it will allow GMAC to be more competitive, expand products and services and that the same relationships they enjoy with us today will be there tomorrow."
According to Stoller, the transaction will not have any impact on GMAC's full-spectrum auto loan purchasing practices.
"There is no impact in terms of how we do business or gauge credit," he pointed out. "We originate our assets with a lot of experience — almost 90 years. Our team is good at what they do and make the auto loan purchase part of our business a successful one. Going forward, any activities regarding this part of our business will not change. We will not relax our credit standards or increase our risk. We are proud of our ability to generate high-quality assets.
"The investing consortium that purchased the majority stake did not just purchase our assets; they purchased our people, activities and business portfolio, too. They are happy with what GMAC does," Stoller said.
In other words, business will continue as usual for GM's dealers, as the company is retaining its staff and principles it established over the 87 years it has been in business.
Further looking at the impact of the transaction on business, Stoller said GMAC has lowered its buy-rates for both new and used by about 100 basis points since Oct. 1.
"While we still intend to do more to help our dealers in the days, weeks and months to come, there has been a tangible effect from the equity transaction and our desire to move from defense to offense," Stoller related.
He also pointed out that the company's bonds rates are trading at levels they were at when GMAC was A-level rated a few years ago.
"We believe that the structure of the transaction, coupled with continued strong operating performance will lead to ratings upgrades over time. The marketplace is already casting a strong vote of confidence for GMAC," Stoller noted.
Finally, Stoller said, "Following the transaction, GMAC now enjoys the best of both worlds — an independent credit profile de-linked from GM and retained relationships and access to the GM family of dealers.
"GMAC and GM codified everything that GMAC has operationally done for GM during the past 87 years and made sure that nothing will change in the levels of service and products necessary for GM to be the leading auto manufacturer in the world," he concluded.
For more information regarding the transaction or GMAC's expansion plans, the company said dealers should the GMAC representative they normally do business with.