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General Motors, Opel To Detail Restructuring Plan

Automaker and its subsidiary said they would provide the German government more information regarding their restructuring plans in hopes of securing government aid.

BERLIN (AP) -- General Motors Corp. and its subsidiary Adam Opel AG said Friday they would provide the German government more information regarding restructuring plans in hopes of securing government financial help.

After a meeting between officials from GM, Opel and the government at the Chancellery in Berlin on Friday, the companies were asked to provide more information on a number of still-open questions regarding plans to make Opel viable -- a process officials said could take weeks.

"We had an open, good and constructive conversation with the General Motors management," German economic minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said after the hour-long meeting. "The federal government will review all recommendations that come forward."

"It's a matter of reason that we don't want to make any hasty decisions, but that we make a decision on a plausible basis," zu Guttenberg said. "We all agreed that we are now talking about a process, one that could take weeks."

Opel is hoping to secure at least euro3 billion ($3.8 billion) from the government, and more independence from its American parent.

Guttenberg said that GM has to clarify issues at headquarters in Detroit and that the company is also in close contact with the government in Washington regarding similar issues.

Guttenberg said it was "very important" that the affected workers know that the government will do what's possible, "reviewing the plausibility of all recommendations."

After the meeting, GM Europe President and Opel Supervisory Board Chief, Carl-Peter Forster said GM and Opel would do everything to get Berlin the requested information. He said the issues were technical, rather than political, without being specific.

"It's completely clear to us that we're dealing with very complicated material here and a lot of detailed questions that we will answer, here in Europe, but especially in the U.S.," Forster said.

"There are a lot of questions to be answered so the concept is truly strong and secure. It's clear to us that this will take some time."

Industrial union IG Metall called the government's inaction on the GM matter a sorry story, and its response to the financial crisis insufficient.

"Fifty politicians in Berlin have Opel's future concept in their hands, though it seems only a few have read it in full up until now," Armin Schild, an IG Metall district director told the AP.

"GM Management made mistakes in the communication of the restructuring concept, but (the government) made a huge mistake: They've documented their ineptitude to handle the economic crisis," Schild said. "That's a tragedy."

At a later government press conference, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said that Berlin was waiting to see what steps the U.S. government would take regarding GM.

"Detroit also needs to do its part," Wilhelm told reporters in Berlin.

Germany's daily Bild newspaper reported Friday that GM had given Opel patent rights to the U.S. government in return for financial support. The report cited German government sources, though Wilhelm wouldn't comment on the matter, only saying it was an issue for GM and for the U.S. government.

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