EU's Concerns Led to GM Keeping Opel

General Motors decided to keep Opel and angered German officials who negotiated for months a potential sale to Magna International and its Russian partner Sberbank. In its defense, board chairman Ed Whitacre said that EU's concerns actually led to the current scenario.

GM has always backed RHJ International whose offer was easier to implement and involved less government participation. At the same time, German workers and politicians supported Magna and offered a 4.5 billion euro to the Canadian - Austrian party to start restructuring Opel.

However, concerns raised by several countries across Europe claimed that Germany might favor Magna and is willing to grant funds in a move meant to preserve local jobs, forcing the future owner to lay off people overseas. As a result, EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes wrote to the German government and emphasized that GM should be allowed to study the deal one more time. This is how GM decided to retain possession of Opel.

"The catalyst for all this was the EU saying you only made the money available to one investor," Whitacre said. "The board did what they should have done and revisited the issue. We had to ask ourselves how we could be a global player and not play globally."

"It's been a confusing decision, but I don't think it was handled badly," Whitacre said. "The circumstances changed from the time this started. The financial part of the business got better. Conditions have changed."

General Motors is now negotiating with Opel officials and country representatives on the restructuring plan. If we are to trust the rumors, around 10,000 jobs are to be eliminated across Europe, including Germany.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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