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Opel Jobs at Stake as GM, German Officials Meet


German officials say U.S. auto giant General Motors still intends to sell its Opel unit, a move that could impact thousands of jobs.

Officials from GM and Germany met Tuesday on the fate of the American carmaker's European unit and its tens of thousands of employees, as news reports quoted GM officials as saying the company might try to raise enough money to avoid a sale.

Germany wants GM to sell Opel to a group led by the Canadian firm Magna International Inc. and Russian state-controlled bank Sberbank because it would save more jobs. German officials and labor leaders worry that two of four Opel plants will shut down if a deal with Magna collapses.

GM declared bankruptcy in June and had announced its intent to sell Opel, but company officials missed a deadline this past Friday to decide on a buyer.

Other news reports quote GM officials as saying the company may try to sell Opel to a group led by a Belgian investment firm (RHJ International).

About half of GM's 50,000-member European work force is in Germany, and the fate of those workers has become an issue in Germany's upcoming elections, on September 27.

The German government already has provided Opel with more than $2 billion in loans. And a German government trust took a 65 percent stake in Opel after GM declared bankruptcy in June.

GM itself has survived only with the help of U.S. taxpayer loans, but the White House says all decisions about GM will be made by the auto company.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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