STOCKHOLM (AP) -- Sweden on Wednesday rejected General Motors' plea for government funding for its loss-making Saab unit, saying it was up to the U.S. automaker to save the brand.
In its restructuring plan, GM said Saab could file bankruptcy this month unless the government in Stockholm ponied up cash to help prepare the Swedish-based unit for a sale.
"I'm deeply disappointed in General Motors," Industry Minister Maud Olofsson said. "They have in practice removed their hand from Saab. ... Instead they are handing over responsibility to Swedish taxpayers."
GM said Tuesday it needed about $6 billion in support from the governments of Canada, Germany, Britain, Sweden and Thailand to provide liquidity for its operations in those countries.
It also said it had "engaged its European labor partners to achieve $1.2 billion in cost reductions, which include several possible closures or spinoffs of manufacturing facilities in high cost locations."
Neither GM nor Zurich-based GM Europe, would elaborate further on which sites were being examined or what, if any, timetable was being looked at.
Juergen Ruettgers, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia's said it was imperative "to fight for the position in Europe to stay safeguarded."
"This is an emergency situation," Ruettgers told German broadcaster ARD on Wednesday.
Ruettgers added that he hoped to get a clearer picture of the impact the announcement would have in Germany at an upcoming meeting with GM CEO Rick Wagoner.
Opel employs approximately 25,000 workers in Germany, and also builds cars in Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Britain. It is the third-most popular brand in Germany, behind Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.
In Stockholm, Olofsson said GM was seeking 5 billion kronor ($570 million) from the Swedish government to save Saab. She said the government wasn't interested because it had already helped by offering credit guarantees, emergency loans and research funds to boost the Swedish auto industry.
GM negotiators "realize that every country is facing trouble when so many jobs are being threatened. Then it's easy for them to hand over responsibility to different governments," Olofsson said.
Philippe Houchois, a UBS auto analyst in London, said Sweden's response was not surprising.
"They (GM) haven't done much to use their European arms to support their U.S. business," he said.
In Germany's case, where the government has stated it is prepared to support Opel, the problem is that the country has six car manufacturers to defend.
"So very quickly, helping six car manufacturers may be very expensive," he said.
AP Business Writer Matt Moore in Frankfurt contributed to this report.