Germany, Spain Meet To Discuss Opel

Two countries’ economy ministers met Friday to discuss Spanish opposition to Magna's plan that foresees cutting some 1,300 of 7,000 jobs at Opel's plant in Figuerelas, Spain.

BERLIN (AP) -- German and Spanish officials met Friday to talk over objections from Madrid about Magna's plans for its newly acquired auto units Opel and Vauxhall.

Berlin heavily backed the Canadian autoparts supplier Magna International Inc., which along with Russia's state-owned Sberbank acquired a 65 percent stake in the German-based Opel from General Motors Co. last month.

Part of Magna's plan, however, foresees cutting some 1,300 of 7,000 jobs at Opel's plant in Figuerelas, Spain.

Though the Spanish government has acknowledged that amid the global economic crisis cuts may be necessary, officials have said their main objection is that Magna wants to move some Figuerelas plant jobs to Germany.

"We don't want any gifts, we don't want any presents," Spain's Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian said ahead of his meetings with German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor von Guttenberg.

What Spain seeks is "that the new Opel will be a European project, that does not just pertain to one country but that can involve all countries," he said.

Guttenberg said, meanwhile, that the talks are part of regular contact with both Spain and Britain -- where Vauxhall has plants -- about Magna's plans.

Overall the talks have been characterized by a "very constructive spirit," Guttenberg told reporters.

As things stand, officials in Spain have said that the country will not contribute to the multi-country aid package for Opel but is open to further negotiations and might come around if its concerns are met.

"We do not find the Magna plan convincing enough to ensure the company's viability," Sebastian wrote in a letter to Guttenberg, quoted by the El Mundo daily. "What is more, we are not able to evaluate the risks posed by the financial proposal with the information and timetable we have been given."

More in Global