Opel's Sale To Magna Is Strife Inevitable in This Tricky Marriage?

The German government is celebrating -- and Opel employees are, too. But there are still plenty of sticking points for this troubled marriage between carmakers, unions and politicians. SPIEGEL ONLINE takes a look at potential pitfalls in the future of the Opel-Magna marriage.

The deal to sell Opel is going ahead. But conflict between the new partners is inevitable.
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The deal to sell Opel is going ahead. But conflict between the new partners is inevitable.

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The announcement still managed to come as something of a surprise. On Thursday afternoon, General Motors' supervisory board agreed to sell the company's European subsidiary, Opel, to Canadian-Austrian car parts supplier Magna and Russia's Sberbank. Magna officials claim GM hasn't imposed any additional conditions on the investor consortium, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said that no further concessions had been requested from the German government.

Nonetheless, not everyone is convinced. "We are not through this," an insider working closely with Magna told SPIEGEL ONLINE. GM will become a reliable business partner, the insider said, "but only once the deal is signed." "We can't allow ourselves to be misled." During negotiations, the insider noted, too many people had been "led astray over and over again."

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Such skepticism is justified. At the same that Merkel was praising the sale, GM chief Fritz Henderson was presenting his view of things. GM would continue to work closely with Opel, he said, so that all stakeholders could benefit from the new ownership structure, which would including sharing technology and development capacity. Vehicles like the model of the electric car Ampera were so expensive to produce, he added, that they could only be brought onto the market through a cooperative effort.

But there is much indicating that the real friction will only truly begin once such cooperation becomes a reality. Even if the participants manage to iron out every detail of this agreement, a close working relationship between all the partners is not guaranteed. Everyone is well-aware that there is still plenty of opportunity for conflicts.

SPIEGEL Online analyzes the potential sticking points:

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