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Germany

Report: German Government Could Take Holding in Opel if GM Fails

The German government would consider taking a majority share in Opel if the carmaker's parent company, General Motors (GM), files for bankruptcy, press reports said Tuesday.

A first aid sign is pictured in front of the Opel car factory in Bochum, Germany

Opel may need government intervention if German jobs are to be saved

The Financial Times Deutschland reported that the idea was raised at a meeting between the federal government and the four German states that host Opel factories and offices. The newspaper said that no decisions had been made yet on any potential buyout.

The carmaker has around 26,000 workers in Germany. The premiers of the states that host Opel facilities met last week with Opel representatives and the new German Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

North Rhine-Westphalia Premier Juergen Ruettgers told German broadcast network ARD on Monday that measures had to be taken to prevent job losses in Germany. He called for patient discussions over the future of Opel.

"We need a solution which is long-term," Ruettgers said of several restructuring plans drawn up by GM to be presented to the US Congress, to which it has appealed for financial aid.

The economics minister said Germany had to wait and see the strategy adopted by GM before it could decide on a way forward.

GM, Chrysler plead cases

US auto executives, from left, GM chief Richard Wagoner, Chrysler boss Robert Nardelli and Ford chief Alan Mulally testify on Capitol Hill in Washington

The big three US auto firms have appealed to congress for more help

On Monday, trade magazine Automotive News Europe said as many as three of GM's European factories could close as a result of the global financial crisis, which has caused a sharp drop in car sales. But GM said that news was "speculation."

The magazine said the factories potentially up for closure would include one in Anvers, Belgium, another in Ellesmere Port, Britain, and at least one German factory.

General Motors is seeking to borrow another $4 billion (3.1 billion euros) on Tuesday from the US government, Bloomberg financial news agency reported. President Barack Obama's administration is expected to issue the money, which would be part of a $13-billion interim bailout devised in December under former president George W Bush.

If GM or Chrysler, which is also under a serious financial cloud, cannot prove that they have made the changes necessary to survive the economic downturn, the auto giants will have to give the borrowed money back to the federal government and will not receive any further loans from the state, the DPA news agency reported Tuesday.

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