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September 28, 2009

SPAIN: Madrid steps up EU pressure over Opel sale

The Spanish government wants European Union regulators to intervene in the proposed sale by General Motors of a majority stake in its Opel unit to a Magna International-led consortium.

The Spanish government wants European Union regulators to intervene in the proposed sale by General Motors of a majority stake in its Opel unit to a Magna International-led consortium.

The Financial Times on Monday said industry minister Miguel Sebastian had written to European commissioners insisting that any reorganisation of Opel by Magna must “make best possible use of the company’s assets”.

This was a veiled reference to Opel’s plant in Zaragoza, northern Spain, according to the newspaper, which on Saturday said Zaragoza and the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, UK were two of the most efficient of GM Europe’s plants, better than those in Germany and Poland.

Regulators are probing claims of a political ‘carve-up’ in the Opel sale.

Belgium, Spain, Britain and Poland have all raised concerns that the Opel sale to Magna would put them at a disadvantage compared to Germany which has backed the deal with EUR4.5bn (US$6.6bn) in state aid.

The German government has defended the controversial aid after a series of complaints of possible political interference, saying Germany would bear the brunt of European job losses. Magna is reported to want to cut around 11,000 jobs from the 50,000 in Europe. This would include roughly 4,000 of the 25,000-strong German workforce.

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