Interest in GM subsidiary Opel heats up | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 17.04.2009
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Interest in GM subsidiary Opel heats up

According to the new chairman of General Motors, at least six investors have signalled interest in taking a stake in the company’s German-based subsidiary Opel.

GM and Opel logos

Opel might just make its way out of GM

"These are serious people," GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said, describing a shortlist of potential investors in Opel to a conference call with reporters.

"Many of them are financial players, some of them are industrial players. I would expect that work would get done in the next two to three weeks and so that process has kicked off."

GM is looking to sell off assets like Opel, as well as its Saab, Hummer and Saturn divisions, in an effort to stave off an increasingly likely bankruptcy filing.

Who's buying?

Henderson provided no names in the conference call, and rumors are swirling about who the investors might be - from Italian carmaker Fiat to sovereign wealth funds in Asia and the Gulf.

Media reports emerging from Italy poured cold water on the idea Fiat was among the potential buyers, as Luca di Montezemolo, the company's chairman, denied any interest in Opel to reporters there.

Fiat is currently involved in negotiations about a merger with another stricken carmaker, US-based Chrysler.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with Opel workers

Visiting Opel workers is very much in fashion among German politicians

Opel's future

By attracting new investors, Opel hopes to become an independent, Europe-based auto company, though GM might retain a minority stake.

Any private deal to take over Opel is likely to include some form of government help. Both the German national government and those of the federal states in which Opel facilities are located have expressed interest in keeping the company afloat.

How that might be accomplished is a hot-button political issue. The Social Democrats and others have pledged that they would go so far as taking a stake in the company to rescue it from extinction.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic colleagues, meanwhile, say providing preferential loans or issuing bonds is as far as they would be willing to go.

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