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Germany

German states offer GM talks on support for Opel

As the chances of General Motors receiving federal loans for its struggling subsidiary Opel wane, the leaders of the four German states with Opel facilities have initiated talks with the car company themselves.

Workers entering the Opel factory in Bochum, Germany

Around 24,000 German jobs are at stake in the Opel restructuring

The four German states where Opel plants are located are now seeking a solution for the struggling carmaker without federal assistance, according to Rhineland-Palatinate Premier Kurt Beck.

Beck, who is a member of the opposition Social Democrats, criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel after the meeting, saying she had not offered any new solutions for Opel, a subsidiary of the American General Motors. "We are all bitterly disappointed," said Beck at a Berlin press conference.

GM rejected an offer from Berlin last November to lend Opel 4.5 billion euros ($5.4 billion) if it sold the subsidiary to a new owner. It then demanded the loan guarantees from a fund set up to help companies hit hard by the recession.

As GM returned to profitability, however, and the German government announced new austerity measures, hope for help from Berlin in protecting the 24,000 Opel jobs in Germany has faded.

Hesse Premier Roland Koch said that various petitions were under consideration but that the four states had not yet made any sort of concrete offer.

The move comes following fruitless talks on Thursday between the four premiers and Chancellor Merkel and after Economics Minister Rainer Bruederle ruled out state credit guarantees on Wednesday.

At a press conference on Thursday, Merkel shut the door on direct help from the federal government. Opel has access to research funding like any other car company, she said, but "the federal government cannot make any further committments today."

Author: Holly Fox (apn/dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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