The battle for Opel has added another front: Opel labor unions at two of the company's German factories retracted an agreement made last year to forgo vacation bonuses. The move demands that General Motors pay the laborers €70 million ($100.2M U.S.) by next week, the amount that they agreed to give up when GM was trying to rescue itself. Workers at two other Opel factories in Germany are expected to make the same move some time this week. The workers want GM to sell to Magna, and if The General doesn't make its intentions plain soon, the next step will be for Opel labor to demand the wage hike they waived last year, which would see the automaker owe another several hundred million euros.

According to Automotive News, GM's board met to discuss which bidder, Magna or RHJ, it would go with, but instead of making a decision it sent its lead negotiator back to Germany to talk to government officials. As of last week, there were rumors of GM wanting a buyback option for Opel, which could get GM quickly back into Europe when the company restores its fortunes. The option seemed to make RHJ the leading bidder, but not the one German government or labor wants.

If RHJ wins, it will get no state aid. If Magna wins, it has been pledged €4.5B ($6.4B U.S.) in government loans. The disadvantage could cause RHJ to deal with Opel drastically, which would greatly displease a whole lot of Germans. Perhaps that is why there is now talk of GM not selling Opel at all, instead looking to raise $4.3 billion to keep Opel in the family. With GM barely out of bankruptcy, and with economies still shaky, observers aren't sure where GM would get that kind of money. It is thought that GM will announce its intentions in the next day or so.

[Source: Automotive News, sub req'd]


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