By on May 25, 2010

Pretty soon you’ll hear about a breakthrough for Opel, and that there will be state aid. If not, you’ve read it here first. In any case, treat the news carefully. Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, usually well-informed in Opel matters, reports that the state of Thuringia offered help to Opel. The Süddeutsche calls it a “symbolic offer.”

First, the offer is for €27.2m ($33.3m), a pittance for a company that lost $500m last year. Second, it’s tied to what the €300m state aid from Great Britain is also tied: Serious money from Germany’s federal government.

Two other German states are expected to offer money, under the same conditions. One of the two already denied that they had made a decision. Nick Reilly told the Handelsblatt today that Poland wants to help, and that Spain promised an answer within the next then days. Any offers of cash will come with the usual caveat: We’ll give if Berlin pays the lion’s share. Opel would like to collect €1.8b, they expect €1.3b from Germany.

Today, another of the many committees that have to approve money for Opel is meeting, but nobody expects a decision. They will most likely pass the decision on to the next committee.

Meanwhile in Berlin, Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle sees no reason for undue haste. He thinks, a decision will come “end of May, beginning of June,” says Der Westen. Most observers, Reilly included, don’t expect a decision before June.

Berlin gives GM more reason to regret their “payback” ad. Brüderle makes ominous noises about GM doing well, that they “intensively think about going public,” that they repay their debt before it’s due. Sales are also good. Subliminal message: Do they really need our money?

As in “if Mrs. Merkel declines help, we will pay for it ourselves. Maybe this will make your chancellor happy.”

Update: More delays. The steering committee wanted to convene today. But there was no quorum. Several members didn’t think the matter was worthy of their appearance. Now, the matter will be solved via “Umlaufverfsahren”, or circular resolution:  The files will be sent from one member to the other, for a Ja or Nein. That can take yet another week. Then, on to the next committee.

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4 Comments on “Germany Answering Opel’s Prayers? Not Exactly...”

  • avatar

    This matter continues to turn – as it always has – on whether (and how much) Washington/GM ponies up. The Europeans know that a dying Opel does not look good on the IPO, or on the Democrats’ decision to turn GM and the UAW into wards of the state.

    By not mentioning the US, the Europeans and the unions are making it appear as though they are taking the first step. They are not. They are in fact offering to take the last step, after Government Motors leads. However, the Europe-first spin gives Washington political cover for throwing endless US taxpayer money at Opel. Subsequent deceptions will involve concealing both the amount and the means by which Opel (and the IPO buyers) will be propped up ad infinitum by the American citizenry.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    I would not count my “Chickens” on any help from Spain, this Country is one of the Piggs of Europe just like Greece, Ireland, Italy, and Portugal! These Countries all are broke and in bankruptcy in the EU! These Countries are all to blame for the Market conditions we have today, down, down!.

  • avatar

    I don’t think this is a pure money issue. Aside from the fact that there simply is no money left anymore it would be an unfair act against European GM competitors. They easily could come under pressure sooner or later and may then have a reason to cry for government help, as well.
    Who is going to pay for that? People already on the dole or in retirement? This does not compute.

  • avatar

    I’ve always been fascinated by German organizational skills and efficiency. I was initially taken aback by the seemingly disorganized temporizing over Opel, but I think I’ve caught on. The endlessly indeterminate decision process is actually an efficient, highly choreographed dance. Even apparent bumbling is conducted with typical German precision. I finally realized it when there was a delay due to lack of a quorum, requiring even more delay-inducing individual notification. Brilliant!

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