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Fiat boss to discuss Opel bid in Germany

Fiat boss to discuss Opel bid in Germany

Fiat Group SpA's chief executive was expected in Berlin for discussions Monday with the German government on the company's hopes of taking over General Motors Corp.'s Opel unit _ a prospect that has prompted skepticism among employee representatives.
Fiat's Sergio Marchionne was to meet with Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is also the vice chancellor.
GM has been trying to find investors for its noncore and unprofitable assets to help stave off collapse. Germany is keen to safeguard the future of Adam Opel GmbH, a core part of GM's European operations, which employs about 25,000 people at four plants in Germany.
Guttenberg's talks with Marchionne follow a meeting last week with representatives of Canadian car parts maker Magna International Inc., which also has expressed an interest in taking a stake in Opel. Guttenberg said then that Magna had presented an "interesting first, rough concept."
The German government has said it doesn't foresee giving direct state aid but could help an Opel investor with loan guarantees.
Talk of a possible takeover of GM's European operations comes just a week after Fiat signed an agreement to buy an initial 20 percent stake in U.S. automaker Chrysler LLC.
Fiat said Sunday that it is evaluating the possible spinoff of its auto business to form a new listed company _ possibly as soon as the summer.
If it does successfully conclude the two deals, Fiat would be in the driver's seat of an alliance that last year collectively made some 5 million vehicles in a contracting market.
Marchionne was quoted in the Financial Times Monday as saying of his company's plan: "From an engineering and industrial point of view, this is a marriage made in heaven."
While analysts have touted the synergies of Fiat's deal for Chrysler, which inhabit complementary sectors of the auto market and different geographic regions, there is more skepticism among industry experts and unions in both Italy and Germany about the wisdom of a play for Opel.
Both automakers focus on small cars, and Fiat has been making inroads into the German market. Employee representatives have made clear they worry about what a Fiat investment might mean for jobs.
IG Metall union official Armin Schild, who sits on Opel's supervisory board, told ZDF television that it would be premature "to sell off Opel to someone if we can't see very clearly that the concept corresponds with the interests of German taxpayers but also those of Opel employees."
Fiat and Opel "are in the same markets with roughly comparable vehicles," Schild added. "These two companies can give each other little, but take a lot away from each other."
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Associated Press Writer Colleen Barry contributed to this report from Milan.


Updated : 2021-03-06 13:57 GMT+08:00