German Gov’t Meets With Opel Worker Reps

Government's economy minister met with worker representatives from GM’s Opel unit, with both sides urging potential buyers to produce solid plans quickly.

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's economy minister conferred Tuesday with worker representatives from General Motors Corp.'s Opel unit on the search for an investor. Both sides urged potential suitors to produce solid plans "very quickly."

The meeting came as bankruptcy protection for GM becomes ever more probable, with a deadline just over two weeks away. Berlin is keen to ensure the future of Adam Opel GmbH -- which employs some 25,000 people in Germany, nearly half GM Europe's total work force.

With the deadline looming, participants "all voiced the expectation that potential investors very quickly present concrete, reviewable concepts," an Economy Ministry statement said.

They share the aim of finding an investor with a "convincing concept for the future" of GM's European operations that will preserve as many jobs as possible, it added.

Italy's Fiat wants to make GM Europe, including Opel, part of a global powerhouse also including Chrysler. German unions have voiced concern about the job losses that plan might entail.

Canadian-based autoparts maker Magna International has said it is in talks about options for Opel that might include taking a minority stake, but otherwise has given few details.

"I will actively call for the most economically and legally sustainable model to get a chance," Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said, without indicating whose that might be.

Opel's top employee representative, Klaus Franz, welcomed Guttenberg's "personal statement that there has been no precommitment to a particular investor."

The German government has said it would be prepared to provide loan guarantees to an investor. GM CEO Fritz Henderson said Monday that his company has an urgent need for German funding, so any partner for its European operations would have to be suitable to the government.

Tuesday's statement renewed Guttenberg's suggestion that, if GM files for bankruptcy protection, its Opel holdings could be temporarily transferred to a trustee in order to remove pressure for "overhasty decisions."

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