September 11, 2009

Belgium unhappy with Opel sale

Belgium is pressing the European Union to investigate the sale of Opel to a Canadian and Russian venture on concerns that Germany sought unfair advantages.

In question are plants in Germany that will remain open after Canada's Magna International Inc. and Russia's Sberbank take control of 55 percent of General Motors Co.'s Opel and Vauxhall production, a deal GM agreed to this week.

On the flip side, an Opel plant in Antwerp, Belgium, is expected to close, CBCnews.ca reported Friday.

Germany pushed for the deal and is helping finance it.

Belgian Foreign Minister Yves Leterme is expected to press the issue at a meeting of EU trade officials next week.

Belgian Vice Premier Joelle Milquet said Germany sought its own advantage, in the deal, where trimming operations means a loss of jobs at Opel or Vauxhall facilities.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin applauded GM's choice of Magna and Sberbank, saying the deal will further integrate Russian and European economies.