Reports say a deal by General Motors to sell a major stake of its Opel arm to the Magna consortium will be signed on October 15, although hurdles still appear to exist.

German news agencies are reporting that a deal to sell Opel to a group led by Magna International and its partner Sberbank will finally be signed as soon as tomorrow (15 October). General Motors will offload 55% of Opel to the Magna-led consortium, 10% to employees and retain a 35% share for itself. In return the workers will give up €1.2 billion (US$1.8 billion) in concessions.

Concerns were raised regarding Opel's European factories, particularly in the UK's Vauxhall subsidiary and in Spain. The unions cried foul saying €4.5 billion (US$6.7 billion) of financial aid pledged by the German government would favour German factories over the rest.

The majority of Vauxhall's 5,500 employees work at the manufacturing plants. Restructuring plans include cutting 10,500 of the 50,000 factory jobs across Europe but even that is still up in the air. The Belgian operation is one seen as being at risk.

"Some progress is being made in talks between key parties," said a spokeswoman for the UK Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, "But there are still issues to be resolved. We, like everybody else, would like a speedy resolution but we want to get the terms right."

Russia could be a real winner in the deal. Sberbank is the country's largest commercial bank and it and its partner want to plant €500 million (US$745 million) into their new company for expansion into Russia.


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