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Business

Lifeboat ready for Germany's Opel, insider says

General Motors could file for bankruptcy in the US as early as May, but its looking ever more likely that its German subsidiary, Opel, could survive the collapse of one of America's iconic automakers.

Opel's symbol next to GM's symbol

Opel still appears optimistic it can survive without GM

In an extraordinary meeting on Friday Opel's board of directors reportedly discussed the company's options. An insider at Opel told ARD that a "lifeboat" for the Ruesselsheim-based company had been found.

The board of directors is reported to have focused on patents and the debts that GM has with Opel.

Analysts say that part of a solution to GM's problems could mean breaking up the automaker into separate "good" and "bad" components. This would likely lead to the phasing out of ailing branches, such as unsellable brands and factories, and the continuation of successful brands.

Rainer Einenkel, head of Opel's work council, told ARD that there are continuing discussions. "We are deciding on several steps so that we can become independent," he said.

An Opel worker with a sign which reads Yes we can better without GM

"Better without GM:" an Opel worker protests earlier this year

Speculation rife

Opel could demand millions of dollars from GM for selling it technologies in 2005, Die Welt daily reported on Thursday.

"The best outcome would be the return of the patents," an Opel insider told Die Welt.


Opel currently has enough cash to continue operation independently for the next four months, the newspaper Bild reported Wednesday. The paper said one of the main reasons for the funds was the success of a new Opel car model, the Insignia.

Klaus Franz, Opel work council head, told Bild that the company's assets were safe.

"We have time to build Opel Europe," he said.

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