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GM to Sell Opel to Canadian-Russian Group Favored by Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed today the decision by US auto maker General Motors to sell its troubled German-based Opel unit to a Canadian auto firm.

Chancellor Angela Merkel saluted the decision of Detroit -based General Motors to sell its Opel unit to Magna International at a press conference in Berlin.

Ms. Merkel told reporters the German government welcomes the deal. She says she is very happy about the decision which is along the lines of what the government hoped for, and is also along the lines of what the employees of Opel hoped for.

General Motors announced that Magna, along with its Russian partner OAO Sberbank, would acquire a 55 percent stake in Opel. The deal also sees GM retaining a 35 percent stake and Opel workers getting 10 percent.

The German government had been lobbying hard for the Magna-Sberbank bid, in part because it concluded the deal would preserve the most jobs within the German auto industry. German labor unions also backed the Magna option.

The German government had a stake in the GM decision because it offered several billion dollars in loan guarantees to support the Magna bid.

According to media reports, the GM board had been weighing four options for its Opel unit, including letting it fall into bankruptcy protection. GM also appeared to be favoring a rival bid by a Brussels firm, RHJ International, before finally agreeing to the Magna option. The US car manufacture emerged from bankruptcy in July.