Showdown between EU and Germany over Opel sale
For months, the sale of GM-owned Opel has consumed much of the public discourse in Germany. Eventually, Germany heavily favoured the Canadian parts company, Magna, whose offer was supported by the Russian state-owned bank, Sberbank, because the deal predicted the least number of German workers losing their jobs and GM was more or less forced to obey their wishes. Opel employs about 50,000 workers in Europe. Half are in Germany, while other plants are in Britain, Belgium, Poland and Spain. However, on Friday the EU voiced concerns over the role of the German government, and especially that of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was up for re-election during the negotiations. Merkel’s offer to provide $6.7 billion aid should Magna win runs afoul of European competition rules, and the deal might have to be cancelled. As the week came to an end, German economy minister Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg was confident that EU concerns will be dealt with and that the deal was not at risk.