Opel’s top labour leader has threatened that the workforce would not help to reduce US$1.2bn in costs if GM in Detroit retains control of Opel.
“The employees want to make sustainable contributions but not if we should return to 100% control under GM,” Klaus Franz was quoted as saying on Thursday during a visit to the plant by German labour minister Olaf Scholz.
He refuted a report in the Wall Street Journal that GM could raise sufficient funds to both pay back a EUR1.5bn (US$2.14bn) German bridge loan and finance the restructuring and operation of its former European operations until Opel can generate its own cash again.
This contrasts with previous plans to give away a majority stake in its European carmaker to either Magna or RHJ in exchange for billions in government aid to prop up Opel.
“It’s not enough with just EUR1.5 or EUR2bn. In order to pay back the bridge loan, GM needs to come up with $2bn and then there would not be a single cent left to invest in new products or restructuring the 25-30% of over capacity,” he said.
“To properly position this company you need EUR5bn to EUR6bn in the next couple of years.”
Meanwhile, a senior German ruling party politician told business daily Handelsblatt the government could call in its loan that expires at the end of November.
“Should GM not want to sell Opel, then we will demand back our bridge financing of EUR1.5bn,” Volker Kauder said.
“We can only remind GM’s leadership once again that they should stick to the agreement reached a few months ago and negotiate a contract with Magna,” the parliamentary leader continued.
According to Reuters, analysts believe however that Berlin has all but admitted defeat in its attempt to install Magna and Russian lender Sberbank as majority owners of Opel against the will of GM’s management and Detroit’s $50bn benefactor, the US government.
Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the Centre for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, thinks GM wants to sideline and demoralise the German government by playing the various Opel countries in Europe against each other.
“GM is breaking down the will of the German government, so it will no longer be able to resist granting further state aid without losing the EUR1.5bn and additional funding through a GM-planned insolvency of Opel,” he wrote, adding that a failure of Opel would free GM of EUR4bn in related costs.
“Only talks with (President Barack) Obama offer a chance. Everything else is condemned to fail. Everything else would make the chancellor and her economy minister regrettable losers,” he wrote on Thursday, the news agency added.