Opel Watch: GM OKs Magna. Government to Decide Tonight
The marathon meeting at the Adlon may not have been for naught after all. “After hours of talks with Canadian auto parts supplier Magna International, GM has reached an agreement, in principle, ” Reuters reports. Now they have to agree on a memorandum of understanding that will serve as the basis for bridge financing of €1.5 billion ($2.1 billion) and the trustee plan that comes with it. The German government will not give the bridge financing without the trustee scheme. Otherwise, their money and Opel will be drawn into the black hole of the Chapter 11 filing that is expected for Monday.
A framework agreement has been reached, says Reuters, but the MOU has not been signed as the story hits the wire. The people with the $2.1 billion (graciously provided by the German taxpayers) will meet at 6 p.m. This being Germany, they want something in writing. Preferably with the seals of GM and Magna at the bottom. And finally, before 6p.m.: Habeas Letter Of Understanding! Signed by GM, Magna, and Russia’s Sperbank.
BBC confirms that “Canadian-Austrian car parts maker Magna International has reached an agreement in principle to rescue GM Europe, owner of Opel and Vauxhall. The agreement was reached with General Motors, but will need to be approved by the German government, which will provide funding to the new owner.”
The Belgium government, home of an Opel plant in Antwerp, already complained. Their Minister for the Enterprise and Simplification, Vincent Van Quickenborne said Germany didn’t stick to the agreed-upon rules, and he is “very worried about the whole situation.”
“Not so fast,” said Herr von und zu Guttenberg. According to Der Spiegel, any deal must first pass the scrutiny of the German government. “We cannot say that there will be a decision today,” said the blueblooded economy minister. Well, then maybe tomorrow, early in the morning. After the EU has been properly informed and cooperated with.
Vice chancellor Steinmeier wants to get it done tonight: “Today is the day when we should try everything to build the basis for the future of Opel.” He already called Magna’s Stronach, who’s back in Graz, Austria, and congratulated him.
Remember: While Magna is getting the limelight and will have a strong hand in running the show, they are far from owning the place. According to the previous plans (which may or may not have survived the marathon negotiations—we shall see) Russia’s Sberbank will own 35 percent of Opel, Magna 20 percent, and Opel employees will get 10 percent. GM won’t go away, they’ll retain 35 percent of the business.
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