Opel has approached the European Investment Bank (EIB) with the potential to secure up to EUR800m (US$971m) in loans.
The GM division was rebuffed on Wednesday (9 June) in its request to the German government for EUR1.3bn in loan guarantees for a European restructuring programme, leaving a possible EUR400m shortfall in its funding requirements.
“What we can confirm is we are in talks with Opel at a very early stage,” an EIB spokesman in Luxembourg told just-auto. “Our normal cap for loans here is EUR400m – that is what we have done with many other car companies such as Saab.
“The conditions would be it services the purposes of cleaner cars. Opel has not yet presented a project but that could come relatively soon. It does not have to be 100% electric – as long as it looks to reach European Union (EU) emissions goals – it could work with conventional engines [as well].
The EIB is reluctant to present a concrete timetable for any loan but once Opel makes its proposals, the project will enter the bank’s “normal cycle,” where it is subject to scrutiny from several elements including an engineering team. “We are probably one of the only banks that has engineers,” said the EIB spokesman.
Following engineering analysis the bid goes to the EIB management committee followed by examination by the board where representatives of all 27 EU states sit.
For its part GM’s German operation confirmed to just-auto the EIB was “one of the entities we are talking to.”
There are two other potential avenues of European funding that Opel could pursue – the so-called European Clean Transport Facility (ECTF) to which the EIB has lent money as well as the Convergence Areas (CA).
Opel has factories in Poland and eastern Europe and could apply for finance under the CA scheme.
“They could apply for that money and it could be around EUR400m to modernise,” added the EIB spokesman. “The condition is the car has to be more environmentally friendly than before.”
However, all three possibilities come equipped with a caveat that Opel knows all too well. It must – as in Saab’s case – ensure the loans are underwritten.
Having just emerged from a long-running saga with the German economics ministry with a rejection of its loan guarantee request, Opel may be forced to turn again to the regional German governments.