The Italian car company Fiat is apparently about to take over its German competitor Opel. The head of the general works council of the Russelsheim company, Klaus Franz, confirmed a corresponding report from "Spiegel Online" to the German press agency.
The Prime Minister of Hesse, Roland Koch, confirmed that Fiat and the auto supplier Magna are interested in Opel. The CDU politician did not want to comment on details of the negotiations. Most recently, Fiat had rejected an interest in Opel.
Opel wants to part with the ailing US parent GM and is looking for an investor. Chancellor Angela Merkel named it as a requirement for a state guarantee.
"Really big liquidity problems"
Franz announced resistance to the entry. Fiat was not aiming for a strategic partnership, criticized Franz. The company only wanted to get guarantees on a short-term basis. "Fiat has 14.2 billion euros in debt and really big liquidity problems. They are currently not getting any money," said Franz.
The trade unionist fears that Fiat will massively cut jobs after the federal election at the latest. Opel and Fiat made "brutal competition" in all segments.
"No understanding for this deal"
IG Metall also fears job cuts and plant closure if Fiat joins the company. "There will be no understanding among the workforce for this deal and there will also be no employee contributions," said Frankfurt IG Metall district manager Armin Schild. Should Fiat get involved, negotiations will be held to close the Opel plants in Bochum and Eisenach within a year.
According to IG Metall, a takeover of the majority in Opel by Fiat seems at least unclear. The investment promised by Fiat is smaller than the contributions planned by the workforce and dealers.
Schild said Fiat is the automaker with the largest excess capacities in Europe. During the cooperation between Opel and Fiat in 20, there was a considerable transfer of technology in favor of Fiat. Opel lost drastically in this partnership.
Letter of intent already on Tuesday?
"Spiegel Online" had previously reported, citing negotiating circles, that Fiat wanted to sign a letter of intent with Opel on Tuesday. Opel management is in favor of the automotive supplier Magna joining the company.
The rumors received further nourishment from the sluggish negotiations for the planned alliance between Fiat and the troubled US automaker Chrysler. The US government had set the two companies a deadline of April to finalize the cooperation.
Meanwhile, Fiat slipped into the red in the first quarter. The shortfall reached 410 million euros. A year earlier there had been a profit of 405 million euros. Sales fell sharply from just under 15.1 to 11.27 billion euros. After earnings before interest and taxes of 783 million euros in the first quarter of 2008, there is now a loss of 129 million euros.