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Twists and turn in Opel's 19-month bid for German aid

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Twists and turn in Opel's 19-month bid for German aid

Automotive News Europe -- June 10, 2010 06:01 CET

(Reuters) -- Germany's economy ministry rejected a request for 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in loan guarantees for money-losing carmaker Opel. Opel wants state aid to help it compete in an increasingly competitive car market, but a turnaround at parent General Motors Co. from bankruptcy to profitability in just 12 months is undermining its efforts. The following timeline shows key events over the last year at Opel, which was founded in 1863 and bought by GM in 1929.

Nov 14, 2008 -- Opel says for first time that it has requested loan guarantees from German federal and state governments

May 20, 2009 -- GM Europe says three bids for Opel have been made. Fiat S.p.A. confirms its bid and a source says private equity investor RHJ International SA has made an offer.

May 30 -- Germany agrees on a deal with Canadian car-part supplier Magna International Inc., GM and the U.S. government.

July 20 -- GM receives binding bids from Magna, RHJ and China's Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co (BAIC).

July 24 -- BAIC says it has dropped out of the running.

Aug. 19 -- Germany says it could provide 4.5 billion euros in state aid for Opel without help from other European governments if GM chooses Magna as the buyer.

Sept. 10 -- GM's board agrees to the sale of a 55 percent stake in Opel to a group led by Magna.

Sept. 14 -- Magna says it will cut about 10,500 Opel jobs in Europe, mostly in Germany.

Nov. 3 -- Opel's labor force agrees to 265 million euros in annual cost cuts over five years if GM goes ahead with the sale. Hours later, GM's board reverses its decision from mid-September and instead declares it will keep control of Opel.

Nov. 6 -- GM says GM Europe President and Opel Supervisory Board Chair Carl-Peter Forster is leaving. On Dec. 4 it names Nick Reilly, head of international operations, as GM Europe boss. Reilly takes over as Opel/Vauxhall CEO on Jan. 15, 2010.

Nov. 23 -- Reilly says it will cost 3.3 billion euros to rehabilitate Opel.

Nov. 25 -- Reilly says GM intends to cut about 9,000 jobs at Opel across Europe, with up to 60 percent of them in Germany, which hosts half of Opel's 50,000 staff. Figures are later revised to 8,300 cuts overall, with 4,000 in Germany.

Jan. 21, 2010 -- GM says it will close its Antwerp, Belgium, plant in 2010, shedding 2,600 workers, and predicts job and capacity cuts would affect all of its European sites.

Feb. 9 -- Opel asks Germany for 1.5 billion euros in state aid to fund 4,000 job cuts at home that will help return the carmaker to profitability no later than 2012.

March 2 -- GM says it will triple its funding of Opel to 1.9 billion euros in equity and loans and cut its request for state aid, in a bid to win over European governments. It increases its funding estimate for Opel to a little more than 3.7 billion euros.

April 30 -- GM says it expects to incur costs of 400 million euros for termination benefits covering 2,600 workers at its Antwerp plant.

May 7 -- Reilly says he is hoping Germany would guarantee 90 percent of just 1.3 billion euros in loans, lowering his needs after talks with other European governments yielded more help than Opel initially expected.

May 21 -- Opel says it reached an outline deal on wage concessions with employee representatives aimed at saving 265 million euros in annual wage costs through 2014. Ten days later, EU union and work force representatives from countries hosting Opel's major manufacturing plants sign the deal.

June 7 -- Spain and the Aragon regional government will provide Opel with 300 million euros in aid.

June 9 -- The Steering Committee of the German rescue fund splits on aid request. Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle then rejects the request, saying GM had enough money to complete an overhaul on its own.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100610/ANE/306109997/1193#ixzz0qSdB9C6o

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