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Germany

German government demands guarantees from Opel investors

The German government is demanding that potential investors in struggling automaker Opel commit to preserving jobs, according to media reports. A proposal by Italian automaker Fiat has Opel's works council worried.

The Opel symbol next to the Fiat symbol

Some fear that a Fiat takeover would lead to factory closures and jobs cuts for Opel

The German government is looking for investors for Opel, the German subsidiary of General Motors. Italian carmaker Fiat and Austrian-Canadian auto components manufacturer Magna are currently at the top of the list.

In Germany, however, a possible Fiat takeover has some concerned, including the premier of Hesse, the state where Opel is based.

Fiat is not in a particularly strong financial position itself, and Opel's works council is concerned that if the Italian company took over Opel, it might scrap those models which directly competed against Fiat products.

Opel's works council believes a Fiat takeover would mean shuttered factories and job cuts.

But on Sunday, German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that parties who were interested in investing in Opel would have to commit to strengthening the carmaker.

"Whoever wants to close factories and cut jobs is not an acceptable Opel partner," he said.

Fiat vs. Magna

GM headquarters in Detroit with two US flags

Opel's parent company General Motors is facing potential bankruptcy in the United States

German Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has reportedly already held talks with Fiat.

Guttenberg told the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday that the government would carefully consider Fiat's plan for Opel to see how many sites and jobs could be retained.

Guttenberg also urged against premature criticism of the Fiat bid, saying it did not help with negotiations.

According to the report, the economics minister is due to hold talks with Magna in the next few days.

Guttenberg said Magna is "potentially an interesting partner" and said the goverment would scrutinize Magna's proposals as carefully as those from Fiat.

Hesse State Premier Roland Koch is one of those who favors a Magna takeover. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily also cited unnamed Opel officials who viewed Magna as a better solution.

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