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EU says Germany Opel aid unconditional

Source: Reuters - Mon 19th Oct 2009

Germany has assured GM GM.UL and the Opel Trust that its 4.5 billion euros (4.1 billion pounds) offer in financial aid for Opel is not tied to the choice of an investor or a plan, a European Commission spokesman said on Monday.

The Commission said last week that there were significant indications that the promised aid was subject to a pre-condition that Magna and Sberbank was selected to buy Opel, in breach of strict EU state aid and internal market rules.

In her letter to German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said GM and the Opel Trust should be given the chance to reconsider their decision based on a written assurance from Germany that there would be no conditions attached to the aid.

"Germany has now written to GM and the Opel Trust, giving them the assurance we asked for" Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said. "The Opel Trust and GM will now have to reconsider in light of these written assurances. Then the German authorities have to tell us."

GM Europe declined immediate comment.

Brussels-listed holding company RHJ International, which had bid for Opel, said it was no longer interested in the carmaker, having agreed to buy wealth management unit Kleinwort Benson from Commerzbank last week.

"We have moved on. Financial services is now our priority" a spokesman said.

China's Beijing Auto, which had also been interested in Opel, declined to comment.

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