Opel Said To Need $4.2 Billion

GM's German-based unit needs some $4.2 billion to weather the economic crisis, a union official who sits on the automaker's supervisory board said Friday.

WIESBADEN, Germany (AP) -- General Motors Corp.'s German-based Opel unit needs some euro3.3 billion ($4.2 billion) to weather the economic crisis, a union official who sits on the company's supervisory board said Friday.

The figure was provided to The Associated Press by Armin Schild, a senior member of the IG Metall union. A supervisory board, which includes employee representatives, is the equivalent of a U.S. board of directors.

Schild said that if the German government were to provide the money -- through guarantees or some other way -- Adam Opel GmbH would be able to reduce its reliance on troubled U.S. parent GM.

Marco Molinari, an Opel manager responsible for finance, acknowledged that, as a result of "changed external market conditions," Opel expects its need for credit guarantees in Europe to be higher than the euro1.8 billion previously under discussion.

However, he insisted in a statement that it is "not serious" to give an exact figure "without having clarified the necessary contributions by all involved, particularly the owner and employees, for a sustainable future concept."

German officials have indicated that they are willing to help keep open Opel plants, but are insisting that the company outline a long-term plan for the division first.

Economy Ministry spokesman Steffen Moritz said in Berlin earlier Friday that the automaker is expected to produce that concept "by the end of next week." He declined to comment on the level of Opel's possible financial needs.

Opel first discussed possible guarantees with the German government in November. Moritz said talks on the issue are on ice until the company produces its long-term plan.

GM said on Tuesday that it needed about $6 billion in support from the governments of Canada, Germany, Britain, Sweden and Thailand to provide liquidity for operations in those countries.

Opel employs approximately 25,000 workers in Germany, and builds cars in Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Britain. It is the third-most popular brand in Germany, behind Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.

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