GM to Keep 35% of Opel, Magna/Sberbank Get 55%

Unions had also signed an agreement that supported 'the necessary cost restructuring.'

General Motors said on Sept. 10 that it would keep 35% of the shares in its European Opel/Vauxhall operations and sell 55% to a Canadian/Russian consortium.

Employees would own 10% of what GM called the "New Opel" following its sale to the Canadian auto parts maker Magna and Russian state-owned bank Sberbank.

Several key issues still needed to be finalized, including the terms of a financing package provided by the German government, but the final documents should be ready for signing within a few weeks, and the deal should close within the next few months, GM said.

After months of tough talks, GM finally agreed to sell the majority stake in Opel to Magna and Sberbank, a deal expected to save as many German jobs as possible and one that boosts Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of a September 27 general election.

"Hard work over the past two weeks to clarify open issues and resolve details in the German financial package brought GM and its board of directors to recommend Magna/Sberbank," GM chief executive Fritz Henderson was quoted as saying.

Unions had also signed an agreement that supported "the necessary cost restructuring," he added.

Magna has said in the past that it would eliminate 10,000 European jobs after taking over Opel, but no figure was cited on Sept. 10. GM employs 50,000 workers in Europe, with about half of those in Germany.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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