Create a free account to continue

GM CEO In Germany To Discuss Opel Future

Fritz Henderson met with leaders of its Opel unit to discuss the European subsidiary's future, a week after GM decided to keep it instead of selling a majority stake.

FRANKFURT (AP) -- The chief executive of General Motors Co. met with leaders of its Opel unit on Monday to discuss the European subsidiary's automaker's future, a week after GM abruptly decided to keep it instead of selling a majority stake.

Fritz Henderson wanted to get a firsthand look at the situation at Adam Opel GmbH's headquarters in Ruesselsheim, just west of Frankfurt, said Opel spokesman Ulrich Weber.

Monday's talks ended without the emergence of any clear plans for the future of Opel's five plants in Germany, or those elsewhere. Henderson will hold more talks Tuesday, including with the head of the company's employee council leader.

Henderson was accompanied by Nick Reilly, director of GM's international operations.

GM decided last week to keep Opel and its U.K. based sister brand Vauxhall, instead of selling a majority stake to a Canadian car parts maker Magna International Inc. and Russian lender Sberbank. That deal was backed by the German government and Opel workers.

The announcement not to sell was followed by GM saying Friday that its European boss, Carl-Peter Forster, would leave the company.

German weekly Manager Magazine on Monday reported that Forster would become the chief executive of Tata Motors of India. Tata spokesman Debasis Ray declined to confirm, saying only that "Tata does not comment on speculation."

Opel employees and the German government are especially anxious to hear what GM's plans are for the company. General Motors employs some 50,000 people in Europe, the bulk of which are in Germany. The German government had backed the Magna plan financially because it foresaw the least job cuts.

German Economics Minister Rainer Bruederle told ZDF Television Sunday that it was uncertain whether GM could deliver a sustainable concept for the European operations in the short term.

"I'm also very skeptical whether the company, which handled this so badly, has new ideas overnight."

Bruederle also said there was no guarantee that GM would get any help from the German government for its restructuring. No talks with German government representatives were planned, ministry officials said.