Berlin says Opel bailout decision to take weeks

Berlin says Opel bailout decision to take weeks
Economy Minister Guttenberg and head of GM Europe Forster. Photo: DPA
Reportedly furious over a half-baked rescue plan from carmaker Opel, the German government on Friday said any decision for a state bailout could take weeks. But has GM already given Opel patents to the US Treasury Department as collateral?

Following a meeting with Opel’s management in the Chancellery, German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said Berlin would not sign off on billions of euros in aid without more information.

“There are still many questions that have to be answered,” said Guttenberg after talks with the head of GM Europe Carl-Peter Forster. “We agreed that we’re now talking about a process that will take weeks.”

The government is reportedly irked with Opel for demanding a bailout but not presenting a solid rescue plan. Officials slammed the carmaker’s proposals as “disastrous” and “totally insufficient,” daily Bild reported on Friday.

“What Opel has presented is outrageous,” an unnamed official told the paper. “The state won’t give one single cent for that.”

Bild said officials in Berlin were particularly miffed by the news that Opel’s beleaguered US parent General Motors had already given the German unit’s patents to the US Treasury Department as partial collateral for a massive aid package from Washington.

Adding to the government’s annoyance, the 217-page bailout proposal is mostly in English and lacking a viable business model for Opel. The paper reported that it is also full of glossy car advertisement photos and sales slogans.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble became the highest-ranking German official to openly ponder Opel’s impending bankruptcy.

“Our modern insolvency laws are intended to preserve economic value and not destroy it,” he told the Friday edition of business daily Handelsblatt. “We have to realise that to survive such a crisis modern insolvency law is a better option than having the state take a stake.”

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