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Germans to take new look at Opel deal

Source: Reuters - Wed 28th Oct 2009

Germany's new government will take a fresh look at the planned sale of carmaker Opel to Canada's Magna and may consider dropping its support for the deal, a member of the trust overseeing Opel said.

"The new government will take another look at decisions made up to now on Opel and imminent conditions to be set by the European Commission" trust member Dirk Pfeil told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"The result could be a solution where Opel stays completely within the General Motors GM.UL group" added Pfeil, who is a member of the Free Democrats (FDP), coalition partners to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in the German government which will be sworn in on Wednesday.

Pfeil has repeatedly voiced objections to the sale of the General Motors unit to Magna and abstained from backing it when the trust was voted on the deal last month.

General Motors' board of directors is due to meet on November 3 to reconsider the deal, hammered out with the financial backing of the German government, after competition authorities in Brussels expressed concerns about the fairness of the bidding process.

The European Commission has been keeping a close eye on the transaction to ensure state aid is not misused for political purposes. Magna had won approval from Berlin - Germany is home to around half of Opel's 50,000 workers - by proposing to keep all four Opel plants in Germany open.

An Opel trust member contacted by Reuters on Tuesday said the trust was awaiting the GM board decision.

"We don't know what will happen there" the member added, declining to be named. 

Opel dealers' association EURODA, meanwhile, is pushing for the sale of Opel to Magna as soon as possible.

"Waiting much longer might hurt confidence in the future we so eagerly want to focus on" EURODA Chairman Jaap Timmer wrote to GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson in a letter obtained by Reuters.

Merkel's new partners, the FDP, are broadly sceptical of the planned sale of Opel to Magna, but party member Rainer Bruederle, who is set to be sworn in as economy minister on Wednesday, has said there is no way the new government can stop.

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