Berlin rules out 'special treatment' for troubled Opel

6th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Germany's Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle on Sunday ruled out any "special treatment" for General Motors' unit Opel, which is seeking state aid in exchange for keeping thousands of jobs in the country.

"Naturally we are trying to save every job," Bruederle told Deutschlandfunk public radio." However, he added, "you cannot treat one large group any different from another."

The troubled automaker has asked Germany for one billion euros (1.2 billion dollars) in loan guarantees to underpin a broad restructuring programme, which foresees 8,000 job cuts from a total of 50,000 across Europe.

Opel, which includes Vauxhall in Britain, employs around 25,000 people at four plants in Germany. The head of its works council warned this week the US auto giant could close two of the plants if Berlin refuses the aid request.

But Berlin -- which is looking for ways to slash the state deficit in the wake of the Greek debt crisis -- has given Opel's request a cool reception.

Bruederle said he remained "sceptical," and that a decision would be reached in the coming days.

GM is prepared to pump 1.9 billion euros into the restructuring plan but is seeking a total of 1.8 billion euros in loan guarantees from European governments.

German officials feel that GM, which emerged from bankruptcy and posted its first quarterly profit in three years in the first three months of the year, can provide the financing itself.

© 2010 AFP

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