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Opel labor says Abu Dhabi discussed unit investment

A labor leader at General Motors’ Opel unit confirmed reports the state of North Rhine-Westfalia had held talks with Abu Dhabi on possibly investing in the unit and said he was not opposed to it.

Rainer Einenkel, head of the works council at Opel’s plant in the North Rhine-Westfalia city of Bochum, also said on Monday that there were a number of financial investors interested in Opel.

North Rhine-Westphalia and the state of Hesse have already held talks with them, the labour leader said, without naming the potential investors involved.

Ailing Opel, which has said it needs €3.3 billion ($4.47 billion) in state aid to avert lay-offs and plant closures, is under pressure to win private-sector support, a precondition set by Chancellor Angela Merkel for state loan guarantees.

So far, there have been no serious public declarations of interest in investing in Opel, with wide speculation about who may throw a hat in the ring.

Einenkel confirmed media reports that Juergen Ruettgers, the prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, had held talks with Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

German newspaper Westdeutschen Allgemeinen Zeitung reported over the weekend that Ruettgers had met with a high-ranking member of the emirate’s royal family.

“I would have nothing against it,” Einenkel said, referring to the possibility of Abu Dhabi becoming a shareholder. He said premium-car maker BMW had expressed interest in Opel’s plant in the eastern German city of Eisenach, but said that those talks had been put on ice.

A BMW spokesman said the company was not interested in buying the plant. A number of other carmakers, including Daimler and PSA Peugeot-Citroen, have said they were not considering a move on the GM unit. (Reuters)