Merkel says Berlin won’t take stake in Opel

Political squabbling over the future of ailing German automaker Opel intensified over the weekend as Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out taking a government stake in the company during a late night Sunday talk show.

Merkel says Berlin won't take stake in Opel
Photo: DPA

Merkel told talk show host Anne Will that it would “not be good news for Opel” if no one but the state was interested in helping the company, adding that the government would not make a better employer and urging the company to find investors. Her comments came after her Social Democratic (SPD) Labour Minister Olaf Scholz had said the state must take over the company in an emergency.

Merkel added that until the US government decided the future of Opel’s troubled parent company General Motors, “we can’t build a proper future for Opel Europe.“

Meanwhile SPD party chairman Franz Müntefering told broadcaster ZDF that the coalition must decide whether it wants to argue about how it shouldn’t have to help or whether it wants to create terms to help the company. Müntefering emphasised the SPD’s willingness to help the company, saying that while state aid may not be necessary, lawmakers can’t rule out a transitional period for aid.

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.