GM decision to retain Opel not political - German foreign minister

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General Motors' decision not to sell Opel to a Canadian-Russian consortium was not political, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

WASHINGTON, November 5 (RIA Novosti) - General Motors' decision not to sell Opel to a Canadian-Russian consortium was not political, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Westerwelle said that Clinton reassured him during their talks in Washington that the Obama administration had not pressured General Motors in its decision not to sell its European division of Opel.

Earlier U.S. President Barack Obama said he had nothing to do with GM's decision despite certain experts and media saying otherwise.

"Now, as to any further steps that might be taken, these will be steps to be taken by those politicians responsible in our government. As far as the German side is concerned, it will be our economics minister who would have to and will be ready to take the respective steps," Westerwelle said Thursday evening after the talks.

The U.S. auto giant decided late Tuesday to retain its big European subsidiary, citing "an improving business environment" in Europe.

The Russian government said on Wednesday General Motors's decision was "surprising."

"General Motors... presented everyone with a fait accompli," Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said. "It's a good lesson, and we will have to take into account this style of doing business in the future."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday expressed disappointment with the decision, describing it as "a defeat."

Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said the government would now seek to recover the 1.5 billion-euro bridge loan the government gave Opel last year to keep it afloat until Canadian auto parts maker Magna and Sberbank could take a 55% stake.

On September 10, General Motors announced that it would sell Opel to a consortium of Canada's auto parts maker Magna and Russia's largest bank, Sberbank. The decision was approved by the Opel board and the German government.

According to the previous plans, the Magna-Sberbank consortium was to have a 55% stake in Opel on a parity basis, and the German carmaker was to control 10%, with GM retaining 35%.

 

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