Opel Labor Official Favors Magna Partnership

Labor official at German carmaker Adam Opel said he favors a tie up with Canadian car parts maker Magna International over Italy's Fiat, but wants to see plans from both.

FRANKFURT (AP) -- A labor official at German carmaker Adam Opel GmbH, a unit of General Motors Corp., said Monday he favors an Opel tie up with Canadian car parts maker Magna International Inc. over Italy's Fiat SpA, but wants to see a plan for Opel's future from both.

Opel's Bochum plant works council president Rainer Einenkel told the AP Monday he favors Magna because the companies aren't competitors and their products don't overlap.

"There are a lot of commonalities we could build up," with Magna, Einenkel said.

Einenkel reiterated he doesn't want any plant closures in Germany and said he also wants a "serious concept" from especially Fiat to assess how product overlap will be dealt with at the two companies to avoid any plant closures. Magna woulc also have to provide a concept to Opel he said.

The German government has also indicated a strong interest in a Magna tie-up, and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a series of calls to the Aurora, Ontario-based company, his spokesman Jens Ploetner said Monday.

Steinmeier has "a completely positive impression" of Magna, Ploetner said, but wouldn't provide details of the phone calls.

Industrial union IG Metall has said it fears closures of Opel's Bochum and Eisenach plants if there is a deal struck with Fiat.

Fiat's plans for the German carmaker are not entirely clear, and no formal offer has been made. German government officials confirmed last week talks were going on between Opel and Fiat as well as with Magna, while Fiat's Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne told analysts there were no direct Opel talks to his knowledge.

Fiat is also still reportedly pursuing an alliance in American carmaker Chrysler.

Thuringia state Governor Dieter Althaus said Monday the state governments where factories are based are seeking to work with "one voice and one strategy for Opel plants."

Meanwhile, Hesse state Governor Roland Koch said last week that Fiat's plans "could spread the thought, that Opel would pay" for Fiat's problems, like falling demand, reduced capacities and weak prospects for the rest of the year. He said it was good that Magna and Opel don't have overlap in markets or daily business.

German economy minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg meanwhile, was quoted over the weekend as saying that the comments against a Fiat deal weakened Germany's overall negotiating position in any possible sale to any party.

Guttenberg, who is expected to meet with Magna officials this week, called the company "a potentially interesting partner," and said Germany will also assess any offer from Fiat very carefully.

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