GM willing to return German government loan

GM willing to return German government loanFrankfurt  - General Motors is willing to return a German government loan of 1.5 billion euros (2.2 billion dollars) which helped GM's European unit Opel to avert bankruptcy in May, an Opel spokeswoman said in Frankfurt Wednesday.

German government officials had earlier angrily demanded a refund after GM's board in Detroit Tuesday cancelled an elaborate plan to spin off carmaker Opel under new ownership.

"GM will repay the bridging loan if it is asked to," the spokeswoman told the German Press Agency dpa. She declined to say if the refund had been formally demanded yet. The loan runs to the end of this month.

She said Opel had only ever called 1.1 billion euros of the credit line and had already repaid 200 million euros of it.

The premier of the German state of Hesse, where Opel's main Ruesselsheim factory is located, voiced his personal "shock and annoyance" at the collapse of a deal to sell Opel to Magna, a maker of auto parts in Canada and Austria.

"We could have saved ourselves many hundreds of hours (of negotiations)," said Roland Koch in Wiesbaden, adding, "This takes us back to square one." GM was putting German authorities to a great deal of trouble, he added.

But he backed off from his earlier outright criticism of the GM decision, saying, "We'll see what it means in the next few days."

Koch said the question was whether government funds should be offered to help Opel again. "That throws up many issues," he said.(dpa)

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