Opel’s future still unknown

The German government anticipates a visit this week from a General Motors Co. executive as Berlin pushes for a quick decision on the European Opel unit’s future, an official said Monday.

BERLIN — The German government anticipates a visit this week from a General Motors Co. executive as Berlin pushes for a quick decision on the European Opel unit’s future, an official said Monday.

The government hopes the executive will meet with Germany’s “Opel task force” of federal and state officials, government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said. He did not identify the manager or give more precise timing.

GM’s board on Friday made no decision between bids for a majority in Opel from a consortium led by Canada’s Magna International Inc. (TSX:MG.A) and Brussels-based investor RHJ International SA. It was unclear when it might decide.

While the decision on Ruesselsheim, Germany-based Opel’s buyer lies principally with GM, the government in Berlin is a player because it is offering financial help to make a deal possible.

Meanwhile, a report Monday said General Motors advisers have recommended GM consider cancelling the sale of the unit and keeping control of it by seeking funding from other European governments.

The Bloomberg news service quoted a person familiar with the discussions as saying the advisers have recommended the board keep control of Opel to maintain its presence in Europe.

Berlin’s strong preference for the Magna-led group, which also includes Russian lender Sberbank, is causing friction with Detroit. GM has indicated that it would prefer RHJ because the Magna-Sberbank bid raises the possibility of patents and other intellectual property falling into competitors’ hands.

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