GM's troubles and the possible fallout for its European operations took a slightly strange twist today when German solar energy company SolarWorld AG said it is preparing to submit an offer to GM to take over its four Opel German factories and the Rüsselsheim development centre.

GM said today that its German subsidiary is not for sale.

SolarWorld has valued the Opel Germany operations at EUR1bn and said it can make available cash funds amounting to EUR250m plus bank credit lines worth EUR750m under the proviso that the federal government provides a guarantee.

The SolarWorld Group said it would subsequently develop Opel into the first 'green' European automotive group.

A core prerequisite, it said, for the submission of the offer is the complete separation of Opel from the GM Group and a compensation payment of EUR40,000 per German job (totalling EUR1bn).

At the four German Opel locations it is the idea of SolarWorld AG to continue the sustainable further development of the current successful model ranges and, additionally, to produce a new generation of vehicles with energy-efficient, low-emission drives in the future.

The company notes that the European development centre in Rüsselsheim is already working on solutions for future-oriented electric drive vehicles like the 'Volt'. After the restructuring of the product range the tradition-fraught German carmaker would especially offer electric drive and hybrid drive vehicles in the future as well as models equipped with the latest technology like extended-range electric drive vehicles that combine electric motors and combustion engines in a highly efficient manner.

Initial reactions from analysts were that the SolarWorld announcement sounded like it could be an opportunistic, if clever, PR stunt.

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