It was an exhausting 7-month process that finally winnowed down a pool of suitors for Opel, General Motors' European subsidiary, to Canadian parts maker Magna and Russian bank Sberbank. The deal was all set to go through, but GM pulled the plug yesterday at the 11th hour, claiming that because of Europe's improving markets and its own better-than-expected financial footing, the automaker could do better for Opel and employees than any of its proposed buyers.
Not so says government officials in Germany, who are reportedly crying in their steins and cursing the day Fritz Henderson was born (we're guessing). Of course, there's money involved, but GM has vowed to pay back the €1.5 billion bridge loan it received from the German government to keep Opel afloat during the selling process. It reportedly only borrowed €1.1 billion and has already paid back €200 million, so Germany is still owed about €900 million.
Aside from the money, German officials and Opel employees in the country are concerned that there will be more job cuts and plant closings by GM than there would have been if the company had been sold to Magna. As such, some of the unions in Germany that had agreed to concessions in order to woo Magna into ownership have vowed not to extend those same concessions to GM.
Outside of Germany, however, GM Europe workers are reportedly happy with the decision to keep Opel in the family fold. Their jubilation stems from fear that had Germany succeeded in brokering the sale of Opel to Magna, other countries like the UK, Spain and Belgium would bear the brunt of restructuring instead of Deutschland. This way, GM is more likely to evenly spread out the costs of restructuring, including job loss, without one region being able to exert too much influence.
[Source: The Detroit News, Automotive News - sub. req'd | Photo by TORSTEN SILZ/AFP/Getty]