Reuters Summit-Navistar CEO still interested in GM unit

Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:54pm GMT

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(For other news from the Reuters Manufacturing Summit, click here)

CHICAGO Feb 23 (Reuters) - The top executive of Navistar International Corp (NAV.N) said on Monday that he remained interested in the possibility of acquiring General Motors' (GM.N) medium-duty truck unit -- though he has no interest in the facility where those vehicles are made.

Speaking at the Reuters Manufacturing Summit in Chicago, Dan Ustian, Navistar's chairman, chief executive and president, said of the GM unit "we're always looking to grow and that compliments us pretty well."

But he stressed that any agreement that required Navistar to keep open GM's medium-duty truck plant in Flint, Michigan would probably never get inked.

"We don't need another plant," he said. "Anything that had that part of it would be difficult for us."

Indeed, Ustian said that if the current downturn continues, Navistar might be forced to close or curtail production at its two heavy-duty truck plants in Canada and Mexico.

"Now, what we have to do is rationalize, on an ongoing basis, whether we need both of those facilities," he said.

"We're waiting a little bit longer to see how the economy materializes. You can expect us to do something there yet this year."

Navistar struck a tentative deal in 2007 to buy General Motors medium-duty truck business -- but the pact expired last summer without a deal being reached.

The deal was seen as a way for Navistar to extend its medium-duty market dominance and for GM to raise cash. (For summit blog: summitnotebook.reuters.com/) (Reporting by James Kelleher; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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