GM to Discuss Opel's Troubled State

Speculation about a possible Plan B from American carmaker GM to keep Opel, in case Magna fails to take over, regardless of the reason, may be taken to a whole new level after today's GM board meeting. Officially, GM is trying to discuss EU concerns that the not-yet {Ad}deal between Magna and Opel broke European competition laws.

"At the moment, the GM board is having a new discussion on this, taking into account the letter from Mrs. Kroes," Opel Trust Chairman Fred Irwin was quoted as saying by Deutschlandfunk radio, via Autonews.

"They will meet today or tomorrow and reach a decision. I assume, because they also think pragmatically, that they will reach a sensible solution."

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes accused Germany, in a letter issued Friday, of acting contrary to the European Union’s competition rules. According to the letter, Germany promised financial aid to Opel but ONLY is the Magna/Sberbank consortium win the Opel bid.

Aside from the issues raised by the EU, Magna is having problems convincing Spanish workers at the Zaragoza plant to accept the restructuring plan. Openly against Magna's 1,300 to 1,650 job cuts, the workers' unions will meet today and decide if they will go on strike or not.

The hurdles in the months-long deal may severely diminish Opel's chances to survive if a compromise isn't reached soon. According to Irwin, Opel has money to last only until mid-January.

GM somewhat denied plans to keep Opel, should Magna manage the impossible and fail to complete a deal which it almost struck, twice. "It is not in the interests of the Trust to re-open the bidding process because this issue is so complicated," Irwin said.

"We've had a number of exhaustive discussions with our board on the deal, the rationale for it, and the need to support the Magna transaction," GM CEO Fritz Henderson told the Financial Times. "If facts fundamentally change, we would go back and consult with our board. But right now, we're spending all of our time trying to get the Magna deal closed."
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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