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Bloomberg reports American Suzuki is set to borrow up to $45 million to to close its automotive dealerships and freshen up its it motorcycle and marine business. Suzuki Motor Corporation will loan American Suzuki the funds at three percent below the London Interbank offered rate in order to offer dealer owners a cash payment in exchange for voluntarily abandoning franchise agreements. The company's 216 dealers have 10 days to make a decision on the matter. Under the plan, Suzuki would give dealer owners half of what they're owed in one lump sum, and the dealers would then be able to pursue the remaining debt through the company's bankruptcy procedure.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Scott C. Clarkson granted American Suzuki interim authority to borrow the funds, but Bloomberg reports the company will likely return to court in a few weeks to seek up to $100 million. According to Richard Pachulski, a lawyer for Suzuki America, the automaker may owe its dealers somewhere around $50 million.
Way back in 2004, Volkswagen took umbrage with Suzuki being granted permission to use the nameplate "SWIFT GTi" for a performance variant of its small-car offering (2012 equivalent seen here). Now, eight years and surely some very steep legal bills later, VW has finally dropped its claim against Suzuki.
The General Court of the European Union stated, back in March of this year, that Suzuki's GTi registration could not be confused with VW's "Golf GTI." Volkswagen had appealed that ruling, though has now reportedly called off the dogs. In fact, Germany's Die Welt reports that the appeal has been dead for several weeks now.
This news comes amongst continued arbitration acrimony between the two automakers, all revolving around VW's forced divestiture of nearly 20-percent stake it purchased in Suzuki some two years ago.
It had been planned for 2014 but it's going to be 2015 instead - that's when Suzuki returns to the manufacturer ranks of MotoGP after quitting the series at the end of 2011 because of The Great Recession. When Suzuki stopped after 37 continuous years of racing, it said it intended to return three years later and it has been in talks with MotoGP's rights holder, Dorna Sports, since last year. No doubt, though, that fan anticipation of the team's return outdoes any dismay at the delay. It will join Yamaha, Honda and Ducati in the premiere league.
Its bike has already been testing in Japan and was with the official MotoGP tribe in Barcelona, Spain on Monday when Suzuki announced its return. It's said the development bike is called the XRH-1, being ridden by official tester Randy de Puniet (who currently races in MotoGP on an Aprilia-based bike with TeamAspar). and after a day of testing de Puniet got the new Suzuki to within seven-tenths of a second of the top time posted by other MotoGP teams. Davide Brivio, who once ran the Fiat-Yamaha team and has been close with Valentino Rossi, will be the team manager.
Speaking of Rossi, The Doctor is back with Fiat-Yamaha after a bad run with Ducati but is only contracted to the end of 2014. Brivio is the man who got Rossi to join Fiat-Yamaha, then got him to Ducati. Until he took the head of Suzuki's works effort, Brivio was working with Rossi's VR46 management company, heading areas like merchandising. The rumormill has already begun its work, with folks wondering if Rossi will head to Suzuki in 2015 if his second stint at Yamaha doesn't prove fruitful before then. Scroll down below for the official press release from Suzuki.