Prelude or Epilogue for Opel?

October 26, 2009

Magna International and Sberbank told EU antitrust regulators today that they do intend to buy Opel from General Motors. After seven months of haggling, this was the way it was supposed to go. Indeed, it appeared to be the natural order of things when the EU competition watchdog set a Nov. 27 deadline to decide whether to approve the takeover. The review was on its list of planned mergers under review.

But this is Opel. The deal has had so many political and financial twists and turns that it would have been foolish to expect anything but the unexpected at this late date.

At the end of last week, GM said it would decide next Tuesday whether to proceed with the deal. Armed with a monkey wrench and political assurances that German financing for the planned takeover could be available to anyone — not just Magna/Sberbank — GM could yet decide to keep the unit.

Such a decision would take a huge amount of will for the recently bailed-out company, not to mention a healthy dose of chutzpah.

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