GM tells Guttenberg Opel split up to US

GM tells Guttenberg Opel split up to US
Photo: DPA
General Motors executives have told German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg that the company is willing to help save their German subsidiary Opel, but the final call whether it becomes independent is up to the US government.

Guttenberg met with GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner for some two hours at the German embassy in Washington, and said that the discussion “was not lacking in clarity.” Both sides reportedly avoided unnecessary politeness and got down to business.

GM assured Guttenberg they would release Opel’s patent rights and shares, in addition to helping form a new European GM group. But the question of the patents and shares will ultimately be settled by the US government, which owns them. The US government will also have the final say on whether Opel is allowed to separate itself from the ailing firm.

Guttenberg is scheduled to speak with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday.

The German government is attempting to save the carmaker – a subsidiary of beleaguered US giant General Motors (GM) – but has resisted calls to offer billions in state aid. Opel employs some 26,000 people in Germany.

Berlin is wrestling with GM’s request for €3.3 billion in government funds from Germany and other European countries where it has factories. Opel has presented a “restructuring plan” which received a cool reception from the German authorities.