The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass., has a surprising editorial on its Web site today that is very critical of Saudi Basic Industries Corp.'s reported bid for GE Plastics. "The purchase of GE Plastics by a Saudi Arabian firm would likely be the worst case scenario for the sale of the company, and not just because this would be another American firm sold to a foreign interest," the column says. "The company's strong ties to the Saudi government, which while nominally anti-terrorist has leaked money to terrorist groups and individuals, should set off alarms about the rumored sale." More provocative language comes later in the column:
It is safe to say that Sabic and its overlords in Riyadh will have no loyalty to Pittsfield and the 420 employees of GE Plastics here, should the sale go through. GE doesn't necessarily have to sell to Sabic, but if it offers the best bid, stockholders concerned only with their dividends will undoubtedly demand it, and with GE CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt on the record that the Plastics Division is up for sale not because it is unprofitable but because it isn't profitable enough, corporate headquarters won't concern itself with the greater good. Surely Washington would step in? Not given the complex business ties the Bush family has had with the Saudi ruling family going back to the first President Bush. These links have prompted the Bushes to overlook all manner of Saudi behavior that has enabled the growth of terrorism within its borders. There may be nothing to stop a sale that has many possible ramifications, none of them good.I was very surprised to see these comments in print, especially since they appear as the official editorial position of the Eagle, which is GE Plastics' hometown newspaper. If Sabic ends up buying GE Plastics, it looks like the paper and the company will be quite unfriendly.