Germany: Brussels sparks row over Opel’s future
20 October 2009
“German politicians are furious because EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes is questioning the takeover of Opel”, headlines Gazeta Wyborcza. A consortium of Austro-Canadian Magna and Russia’s Sberbank was scheduled to take control of the struggling German automaker, a GM subsidiary, by the end of November. Now the transaction is hanging in the balance, the Warsaw daily reports, as Neelie Kroes has suggested that Magna/Sberbank won the bid in breach of EU regulations. There were “serious indications” that the EUR 4.5 bn in aid promised by the German government to Opel was contingent on Magna/Sberbank being chosen.
Gazeta points out that Berlin’s bailout plan for Opel has been also criticised in Belgium, Spain, and Great Britain, as Germany expects that part of the EUR 4.5 bn bill will be footed by the countries where Opel has its factories, while only the automaker’s German plants will not risk closure. For example, Magna/Sberbank plans to cut down production in Opel’s Zaragossa plant by one third and fire 1,400 workers to save 1,700 jobs in Germany.