Doubts grow over Opel deal

GERMANY: Fresh doubts grew over a rescue deal for Opel on Thursday after a newspaper said that Germany may drop its support unless other European countries join it in providing billions of euros in state aid.

Canadian auto parts maker Magna and its Russian partner, state-owned lender Sberbank, struck a preliminary deal last month to buy a 55-percent stake in Opel from US parent company General Motors.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government, keen to safeguard the jobs of Opel's 25,000 German employees, agreed to sweeten the deal with 4.5 billion euros (6.6 billion dollars) worth of state aid.

This was on the understanding, however, that other European countries where Opel has plants like Britain, Spain, Poland and Belgium also contribute to the aid.

With these countries worried that the deal unfairly favours Germany -- EU regulators are scrutinising the deal -- none has yet told Berlin whether they will play ball, business daily Handelsblatt cited unnamed sources as saying.

GM, which emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year majority owned by the US government, and Magna want to sign a final deal early next week nonetheless, the paper quoted sources at the firms as saying.

The firms want to complete the transaction by the end of November, the paper added.