General Motors may have handed over the keys of its European arm Canadian car parts maker Magna – but the final agreement still needs to be thrashed out. The definitive deal won’t be ready for weeks.
Magna says it is committed to keeping Opel’s German plants working, but uncertainty remains over thousands of workers jobs elsewhere in Europe.
“We in Eisenach have a good standing in the Magna concept. All the other bidders wanted to close us,” said one German Opel worker.
“We are relieved but nothing is certain. We’ll have to see what’s negotiated,” said another.
Berlin has pledged 4.5 billion euros in government guarantees and welcomed GM’s decision to sell.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “It is a good day for Opel, it is a good day for the people at Opel. The employees have feared since last year the loss of their jobs and future. And that’s why I’m happy that a decision has been made.’‘
Despite that, about 10,000 European jobs will go. Plants outside Germany are expected to feel the brunt of the cuts with Opel’s plant in Antwerp in Belgium the first to learn it is to be closed. Magna has also proposed moving some production from Zaragoza in Spain to Germany.
Jobs at the car makers Vauxhall sites at Luton and Ellesmere Port in England, where the Astra model is made, are also seen at risk. However, Britain’s Business Secretary Lord Mandelson says he has received reassurances from Magna that both plants are safe.