OpelVauxhall CEO Nick Reilly has said he was baffled by criticism from competitors surrounding the automaker’s recent application for European government loan guarantees.

Without naming the companies involved, Reilly said he had never come across such a position from competitors before, stressing Opel had followed all the necessary procedures for the guarantees, which would have led to up to EUR1.8bn (US$22bn) being underwritten for restructuring purposes.

Addressing the Automotive News Europe Congress in Bilbao, Spain, on Wednesday, he said: “I have to say I have never seen in my automotive experience criticism about state loans from a competitor.”

“I don’t think you criticise competitors for applying for aid, but it happened. It comes around, everything comes around.”

Reilly insisted Opel had requested the aid through the appropriate EU approval programmes and cited the EUR6.8bn doled out by the European Investment Bank for the automotive industry as evidence support had been available.

“I was quite shocked about the criticism, but that has hopefully gone away now,” he said.

The Opel boss added he “was led to believe” the automaker would receive loan guarantees from the German government in order to secure its restructuring programme, although this was subsequently rejected.

Reilly again showed his frustration at the German coalition government’s decision and the waster of the considerable resources he had had to deploy in the loan guarantee application processes, although he stressed the need to move on.

“The decision of the German government was disappointing, but it was their decision,” he said. “We were led to believe loan guarantees would be available – this has turned out not to be entirely the case.

“We need to move on. We can’t afford to have uncertain funding plans when we need to keep investing. “With new products [the company is rolling out new Astra and Meriva lines] we expect to return to profitability quite quickly. Opel is a German and European company, making it a very valuable asset.”