GM is ticking off the Germans. Getting a bridge loan to sell Opel and
then squashing the deal. Fat chance Germany will see the $1.5 billion
any time soon without a heavy arm twice, money at GM disappears! Or
maybe just confiscate GM's assets in Germany.
LMAO, another sucker lent GM money is getting burned. GM has a sub-zero
If I was the German leader, I would give GM 7 days to have that money
back with interest or I would confiscate all GM assets on german soil,
right down to inventory.
Minister Rainer Bruederle has his work cut out. And no, I don't think
they want USDs.
Workers call for stoppages, German government wants bridge loan back
after GM keeps Opel
By Geir Moulson, The Associated Press
BERLIN - General Motors Co.'s decision to scrap the sale of European
subsidiary Opel raised new uncertainty Wednesday over the unit's future,
astonishing politicians in Germany and Russia, and prompting workers to
plan walkouts in protest.
The GM board's unexpected decision to call off the sale to Canadian auto
parts maker Magna International Inc. (TSX: MG-A.TO) and Russian lender
Sberbank was a startling end to months of haggling in which Chancellor
Angela Merkel and other German leaders had strongly backed the deal.
Now German workers worry GM will make even more cuts to return Opel to
profit than Magna would have.
Still, the decision won a cautious welcome from union officials in
Britain and Poland, where workers had feared possible cutbacks in a
GM's decision handed Merkel's new center-right coalition government an
unwelcome test just a week after taking office. German officials swiftly
demanded a restructuring plan from Detroit and vowed to recover by Nov.
30 a euro1.5 billion ($2.2 billion) bridge loan granted to keep Opel
afloat as a buyer was sought.
'We will get the taxpayers' money back," new Economy Minister Rainer
Bruederle told reporters. "Dealing with employees in this way eight
weeks before Christmas is in no way acceptable," he added.
John Smith, GM's chief negotiator for the sale of Opel, said the U.S.
automaker would repay the loan "if we're requested to do so" by Germany.
'We've already begun to repay some of the bridge loan," Smith told
reporters in a conference call. "All that is outstanding is roughly
Merkel, who was flying home from a speech to the U.S. Congress when GM
announced its decision, made no public comment Wednesday, but officials
made clear their annoyance.
Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm criticized GM's "surprising 180-degree turn"
and said Merkel may soon speak with President Barack Obama about the
issue. GM is majority owned by the U.S. government, which said it wasn't
involved in the decision to keep Opel.
On Wednesday, Merkel spoke with Opel's chief employee representative,
Klaus Franz, who said it was "a black day for Opel."
There was a furious reaction from the governor of Germany's most
populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia - which is home to Opel's Bochum
plant and holds elections next May that will offer a crucial test for
Merkel's new governing coalition.
'After many promises and months of negotiations ... GM has left workers
out in the cold," said Juergen Ruettgers, a deputy leader of Merkel's
party. "This attitude from General Motors shows the ugly face of turbo
capitalism. It is completely unacceptable."
Russia, which had backed the Magna-Sberbank plan, also was caught by
'The decision by GM to turn down the deal was astonishing," state news
agencies quoted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry
Peskov, as saying.
Germany had promised euro4.5 billion in further financing to support
plans for Magna and Sberbank to take a 55 per cent stake in Opel - a
pledge that drew concerns from the European Union's competition
With those plans off the table, Germany appeared unenthusiastic about
pledging any new support - though it wasn't ruling it out.
'General Motors has the right to make an application, we have the duty
to examine this application, and the outcome of this is open," Bruederle
GM, which said the European business environment and GM's health have
both improved since the company put up Opel for sale, put the cost of
restructuring at euro3 billion.
Smith said GM's plan was similar to that presented by Magna and
Sberbank, but not identical. He did not elaborate or comment on possible
'We feel that ... once people have a chance to look at it closely, if
they liked the Magna plan, they will also like" GM's plan, he said.
"We're going to let the plan speak for itself."
'We'll very soon present to the European governments" the plan, Smith
said. He added that GM hopes "to arrive by the first quarter at a
restructuring plan with the governments and the unions."
Unions and employees had offered cost-cutting concessions to ease a
Magna deal, such as forgoing pay increases, that are now off the table.
GM will face a new battle to secure concessions for its own plan - and
raised the prospect of a bankruptcy if it is blocked.
'It is in the interest of the unions to negotiate a deal with GM," GM
Europe spokeswoman Karin Kirchner said. Failure to restructure "would
result in the operation becoming insolvent, an unnecessary and
undesirable outcome for all involved."
However, German labour representatives were defiant.
'We won't help shape the way back to General Motors," Franz said.
"Instead, we'll take up our classic function of defending the workers."
Franz said workers would start brief work stoppages Thursday. Rudi
Kennes, another employee representative, said workers at the Antwerp
plant in Belgium, whose future is uncertain, would walk off shifts on
Friday and Sunday to warn GM against job cuts.
In Spain, Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian said Madrid would not make
concessions to GM beyond a deal it had with Magna to accept 900 job cuts
at Opel's Zaragoza plant.
'We are not willing to budge even an inch," he said.
The mood was different in Poland and Britain, where workers had feared
pressure to save jobs in Germany would leave them bearing the brunt of
Magna had said it planned to cut about 10,500 of the 50,000 jobs at Opel
and sister brand Vauxhall in Europe, with less than half the job cuts,
or around 4,500, in Germany - home to around half the work force. It
also said it would keep all four German plants open.
'The future is still uncertain, but our fear is smaller," said Miroslaw
Rzezniczek, a Solidarity union official at the Gliwice plant in Poland.
"Magna ... did not want to guarantee that our plant will not be closed."
Despite the lack of details, "I am pleased we will be dealing with GM
because we know them and we understand their culture - and they know
us," said John Featherstone, a Unite union official at Vauxhall's
Ellesmere Port, England plant.
There was plenty of resignation, but little optimism, at the
Ruesselsheim plant in Germany, where Adam Opel GmbH has its headquarters.
'They led us all around by our noses," worker Michael Kleinmann said.
"They're not interested in the fate of individuals."
Co-worker Ali Yildiz said: "Now everything's possible again, just like a