Decision In Detroit

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Decision In Detroit
Decision In Detroit

Video: Decision In Detroit

Video: Decision In Detroit
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The decision to join Opel should be made in the coming week. The concept presented by the financial investor RHJ met with broad rejection.

The Austrian-Canadian supplier Magna has got a tailwind from Berlin in the race to take over the German car maker Opel. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) certified the Magna concept on Thursday as having "excellent starting points". At a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, however, she also emphasized: "There are still a number of questions to be clarified here." The Russians are working in a consortium with Magna through the state-controlled Sberbank to develop German cutting-edge technology.

Decision in the coming week

The final decision as to who can join Opel is to be made in the coming week at the previous US parent company General Motors (GM) in Detroit. The takeover concept presented by the Belgian-based financial investor RHJ International the day before has met with resistance in the countries. The Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate, Kurt Beck (SPD), called it an «imposition. All of this does not correspond to the interests of the employees and the locations in Germany, the four countries agree on that. He is also in agreement with Vice Chancellor and Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) on this assessment. He hoped that this would also be the government's position. The states insist on further negotiations with Magna, said Beck.

Should RHJ come into play, the financial investor wants the Opel workforce to participate in the new company. According to the concept, employees are to take over ten percent of the shares in "NewOpel". In return, employees are expected to make “long-term” cuts of 250 to 300 million euros per year. The previous Opel parent General Motors (GM) is to keep 39.9 percent. No cash amount is provided for this. RHJI is aiming for a share of 50.1 percent and intends to bring in EUR 275 million of equity in two steps. GM would also continue to be strongly represented on the supervisory board: RHJ wants to provide five representatives including the chairman, five from GM and ten from the employees.

Franz rejects RHJ

The Opel works council rejects the entry of the Belgium-based investor. The Chairman of the General Works Council, Klaus Franz, recently wrote to the employees: "RHJ is a financial investor who will sell Opel back to GM as soon as possible and is acting in the interests of GM."

The Thuringian Minister of Economic Affairs Jürgen Reinholz (CDU) made a similar statement. Reinholz said that he could not help but get the impression that RHJ wanted to renovate Opel with German state aid and major cuts and then sell it back to General Motors after a few years. In his opinion, the Canadian-Austrian automotive supplier Magna offers the best concept for Opel and the preservation of the German plants.

Criticism from Westerwelle

In the morning, the Federal Ministry of Economics rejected images from the "Bild" newspaper, saying that it now sees RHJI ahead in the bidding contest for Opel. A spokeswoman referred to recent statements by Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU), according to which there are no preliminary determinations. Nothing has changed about that. FDP party and parliamentary group chairman Guido Westerwelle accused the federal government of having given the impression for weeks that the case had already been resolved. «Nothing is solved. Nothing is dry. That is not an acceptable policy."

An insider told the dpa that the two favorites in the bidding competition, Magna and RHJI, could present their contracts this Saturday. After that, GM and Opel-Treuhand have to sift through and evaluate the contracts, after all, because of the planned state guarantees, the federal government and the state governments of the Opel states also have to agree. (dpa)