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POLITICS

Chinese could spoil Magna-Opel deal

Canadian auto parts maker Magna seemed to get the green light to buy troubled carmaker Opel, but a report Thursday said a Chinese company is preparing a serious bid for the General Motors division.

Chinese could spoil Magna-Opel deal
Photo: DPA

The state-owned Beijing Automotive Industry Corp. (BAIC) has gotten permission to examine Opel’s financial records, according to a story first published Thursday in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

BAIC is reportedly conducting due diligence before finalising its purchase offer to the investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort, which is handling details of the sale.

A Chinese delegation, including BAIC chairman Xu Heyi is planning to visit Germany within the next two weeks to meet union officials, politicians and works council representatives, according to the FAZ.

Magna hopes to buy a 55 percent stake in Opel and other General Motors European operations with the assistance of the state-owned Russian bank Sberbank.

The German government had announced May 30 that it selected Magna and Sberbank to buy Opel with €6 billion worth of government loans and loan guarantees. But the final details of a deal are still being worked out and papers have been signed and German government officials have said they were open to competing offers.

BAIC had expressed interest in Opel, but missed the deadline to make a comprehensive bid. The government is likely to welcome the Chinese offer as it will probably, at a minimum, force Magna to sweeten its offer for Opel. Magna had promised to keep layoffs within Germany to 2,600 workers and not close any of Opel’s facilities in Germany.

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POLITICS

‘Winter of rage’: Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

Experts are warning that economic hardship may lead to protests throughout Germany in autumn and winter - and that they could be infiltrated by right-wing extremists.

'Winter of rage': Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

In view of rising energy costs, supply difficulties, growing unemployment and general pessimism about the future, authorities in Germany are warning that there will be mass protests this year – and that these are likely to be abused by extremists.

The warnings come from civil servants from the federal offices for the Protection of the Constitution or Bundesverfassungsschutz – Germany’s watchdog for safeguarding free democracy at the federal level and in the 16 states.

Stephan Kramer, president of Thuringia’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told German broadcaster ZDF that, following the pandemic and the world events of recent months, there is a “highly emotionalised, aggressive, future-pessimistic mood” among the population, “whose trust in the state, its institutions and political actors is tainted by massive doubts”.

He expects that “legitimate protests” will be infiltrated by extremists, especially those from the so-called Querdenker (lateral thinking) scene and that it is likely that some will turn violent.

READ ALSO: How Germany is saving energy ahead of uncertain winter

“What we have experienced so far in the Covid pandemic in terms of partly violent confrontations on social networks, but also in the streets and squares, was probably more like a children’s birthday party in comparison,” Kramer said.

The head of Hamburg’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Torsten Voß, told the Funke Mediengruppe that he expects “extremist conspiracy ideologues and other enemies of the constitution” will try to abuse protests for their ideological purposes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, he said “a spectrum of radical opponents of vaccination and so-called Covid deniers have built up a protest infrastructure, with contacts and channels for mobilisation”. This group will try to use this infrastructure for the energy security protests in the autumn, he said.

READ ALSO: German households could see ‘four-digit’ rise in energy costs this winter

Brandenburg’s head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Jörg Müller, also fears that extremists could exploit the energy crisis and high inflation fears for their own purposes.

“Extremists dream of a German winter of rage” he told Welt am Sonntag. “They hope that the energy crisis and price increases will hit people particularly hard so that they can pick up on the mood and advertise their anti-state aspirations. We are following these goings-on with watchful eyes and open ears.”

Vocabulary:

Constitution – (die) Verfassung

Rage – (die) Wut

Violent – gewalttätig

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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