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Guttenberg moots trust to save Opel

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Guttenberg moots trust to save Opel
Photo: DPA
20:49 CEST+02:00
German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on Thursday said he could imagine using a government-backed trust to help save embattled carmaker Opel.

He said such an option might be necessary to win time for the company if there's an acceptable offer to buy the German unit of US auto giant General Motors.

“I emphasize the word ‘if',” he told journalists after discussions in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück.

Guttenberg said the government was still hoping Italian carmaker Fiat or Canadian-Austrian auto parts company Magna would avert the need for any sort of temporary trust for Opel. Officials in Berlin have asked for both firms to present feasible rescue proposals by May 20.

But the trust scheme would aim to prevent the unnecessary loss of any taxpayer money pumped into Opel to keep it afloat as GM comes closer to filing for insolvency.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was blatantly clear to the government that “Opel would receive state bridge financing” if it was needed to keep the company from becoming “entangled in an insolvency in America.” This would give the company times to find a new investor, he said.

The Financial Times Deutschland reported on Thursday that Germany's KfW state development bank might offer Opel a line of credit to keep production going while its future is determined. But apparently there are differences within the governing coalition whether any trust could be controlled by a state entity such as KfW.

The head of GM's European operations, Carl-Peter Forster, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Thursday that Opel could need more than €1 billion in the event of insolvency.

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