GM Europe comes under criticism from highest levels of German government
5 March 2009

Opel’s plea for state aid has come under heavy criticism from the German government after both chancellor Angela Merkel and finance minister Peer Steinbruck expressed doubts about the viability of the firm’s survival plan.

The German government has yet to decide whether or not to grant the request for a €3.3bn (£2.9bn) bailout, which is part of the restructuring plan that Opel submitted to the German government on Monday.

Finance minister Steinbruck, speaking on German television late on Monday night, said that Opel’s plans, which would make the company largely independent of struggling parent company General Motors, were not sufficient. He also said that Opel would have to come up with a self-sustaining strategy before the government would consider providing financial aid.

On Tuesday German chancellor Angela Merkel put the question of state aid for Opel in further doubt, saying that GM’s European arm was not integral to the health of the German economy. “There are system-critical financial institutions,” the Rheinische Post newspaper reported Merkel as saying, “but there are no system-critical industrial firms.”

The head of GM Europe, Carl-Peter Forster, said on Wednesday that Opel’s restructuring plan would cost “hopefully not more than 3500 jobs”.

Matt Rigby

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