Opel needs a better survival plan and, even if that is produced, German government help would not be in the form of a cash injection, the country’s chancellor has said.
Angela Merkel has told party members that Opel is not systemically crucial to the German economy and said in her weekly podcast: “We’ll help if the positives for everyone outweigh the negatives. The [rescue] plan still needs to be improved and clarified”, Reuters reported
German interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had said in an interview published on Friday Opel should not rule out an insolvency filing while economy minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said in an interview published on Saturday there had been too many calls for state intervention and that if firms applied for insolvency it did not necessarily spell their demise.
“If the business model is suitable for the future, an insolvency can also help to retain jobs,” he told weekly magazine WirtschaftsWoche. “Our insolvency law gives firms the chance to write off debt and continue operations.”
The news agency noted that Merkel, Schaeuble and Guttenberg are all conservatives while leading Social Democrats (SPD) – who rule in coalition with their rivals – have stressed their desire to save Opel if possible as Germany heads for a federal election in September.
Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who will lead the SPD’s challenge against Merkel in the election, told Bild am Sonntag that raising the prospect of insolvency was “irresponsible” and only spread fear among the public.
The government in Berlin should work with Opel and the federal states where the firm has plants to draw up its own rescue plan, he said, according to Reuters.
“I know from experience that in these situations you’re most likely to get results if you bring the decisive players around the table and work together on a plan,” Steinmeier said.
Even in the SPD, there are doubts about Opel, the report added. Axel Berg, an SPD member of the lower house of parliament’s economics committee, said insolvency should remain an option.
“We can’t expect the taxpayer to put up with (us) just carrying on as before: pumping in state funds to perform a sort of care for the dying, so that the corpse is carted to and from the graveyard and not buried until later,” he told Reuters.