German politicians blast GM for delaying Opel deal

Sat Aug 22, 2009 10:47am EDT
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By Dave Graham

BERLIN (Reuters) - German politicians reacted angrily on Saturday to the failure of carmaker General Motors to choose a buyer for its German unit Opel, prompting an appeal to the United States government to help broker a solution.

Despite German pressure to back a bid by Magna International MGa.TO, General Motors Co GM.UL declined on Friday to name the Canadian automotive firm as the winning bidder for Opel, leaving the fate of the carmaker up in the air.

German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said he believed a deal was still possible and that talks would continue, but there were angry words from around the country where the carmaker has plants employing some 25,000.

Juergen Ruettgers, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state and home to the Bochum works, issued a statement saying the delay was "intolerable."

"The United States government now shares responsibility for finding a way past GM's leadership weakness and helping us finally to reach a sustainable decision," he said.

The German government, which is barely a month away from a federal election, has offered financial backing for Magna's bid because it believes it would be the best option to save jobs.

Two sources familiar with the talks said GM directors wanted Berlin to say what financing would be available to back a rival Opel bid by Brussels-based financial investor RHJ International.

Economy Minister Guttenberg told the Hamburger Abendblatt Germany had provided GM with all the necessary information.   Continued...

<p>The emblem of an Opel vehicle is pictured in front of an Opel car dealer in Himmelkorn, near Leipzig August 9, 2009. Picture taken August 9, 2009. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski</p>