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Germany wants GM's Opel plans as fast as possible

autos Updated: Nov 04, 2009 15:52 IST
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German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle called Wednesday on General Motors Co to present its restructuring plan for Opel as soon as possible and vowed to get back the euro1.5 billion ($2.2 billion) in bridge loans it granted the automaker.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a government meeting to discuss GM's decision to keep its European subsidiary, Adam Opel GmbH, and not sell a 55 percent stake to a Canadian-Russian consortium, Bruederle said the money spent to encourage Opel's sale to the consortium would be recovered.

"We will get back taxpayers' money," he said, referring to the bridge loan the government gave Opel last year to keep it afloat until Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc. and its partner Russian lender Sberbank could take it over. GM's decision late Tuesday was an abrupt end to months of negotiations that saw Germany's government agree to provide euro4.5 billion ($6.6 billion) in financial aid for the Magna deal in September.

"I expect (GM) to lay its restructuring plans on the table as quickly as possible," said Bruederle, who took over the post of economy minister last month, after Chancellor Angela Merkel's re-election.

GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said the decision by the company's board was the result of an overall improvement in Europe's business environment and GM's health since it put the division up for sale late last year.

Henderson said it will work with Europe's unions "to develop a plan for meaningful contributions to Opel's restructuring." Ruesselsheim-based Opel's brands also include Britain's Vauxhall.