Auto task force claims it was surprised by GM's decision not to sell Opel/Vauxhall
19 November 2009

The Obama administration has claimed it was “completely surprised” by General Motors’ decision not to sell Opel/Vauxhall to Magna.

Ron Bloom, head of the White House auto taskforce that helped GM and Chrysler through Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, “fully anticipated” the Magna deal to go through and was caught off guard when GM decided to keep Opel.

Opel boss hints UK plants are safe

The US government is now the majority shareholder of GM, but it wants the Detroit firm to keep its independence and make its own decisions, something highlighted in the Opel decision, said Bloom.

“They made their own decision and we're not going to try to get them to change it,” Bloom told Auto News Europe. “I guess we could have said something. We absolutely did not.”

Germany was particularly annoyed with GM’s decision and Bloom said the timing of the announcement was “politically awkward”, given that German chancellor Angela Merkel was in the US to meet with the president.

“Our friends in Germany were upset and we were most assuredly not glad they were upset,” he said. "In a perfect world, I would have known about it in advance. But you can't know about it in advance because it's a decision that happens in the boardroom. So, by definition, I couldn't know."

Bloom said his taskforce would not get involved with the proposed job cuts and plant closures in Europe, as that was a decision for GM to take.

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