Germany's Leader in Hot Seat Over GM Aid Request
The crisis at General Motors threatens to drag down Opel, a storied German brand that GM bought 80 years ago on the eve of the Great Depression, the International Herald Tribune reported. Many in the industry believe Opel has a future only if it can get a temporary helping hand from the German government. But whether Chancellor Angela Merkel will make available the public financing needed to help release Opel from the clutches of General Motors is now a murky, highly politicized question involving a reluctant government, an influential automotive union that wants politicians to save jobs and employees who yearn to re-establish Opel as an independent German company. Merkel, up for re-election in the fall, is sensitive to complaints from her constituents in the business community about bailouts for big banks and other corporations and nothing for anyone else. She is promising only a close look at GM's plans for Opel, a stance that political experts here say may be a prelude to her dodging the issue entirely. As part of any rescue plan, the German government is adamant about ensuring that none of its money flows back to General Motors headquarters in Detroit. But detaching Opel from GM and refounding it as an independent company with a majority government stake may be the only way to accomplish that, analysts said. While some governors from states with Opel factories seem open to the idea, Berlin has been much more reluctant. Read more.