General Motors Co GM.UL may finalize a deal this week to sell a majority stake in its European carmaking arm Opel to a Canadian-Russian consortium, its chief executive said on Tuesday, as the firm sheds unwanted brands.
Talks on Opel, in which GM is giving up control under a U.S. government-orchestrated restructuring, have dragged on for months, fuelling anger among staff, half of whom are in Germany.
The Detroit automaker decided last month to sell a 55 percent stake in Opel to a consortium including Canada's Magna (MGa.TO) and Russia's Sberbank (SBER03.MM).
It's quite possible to see documents signed this week, GM CEO Fritz Henderson told reporters in Shanghai.
The comments followed a statement by Opel labor leader Klaus Franz on Monday that he expected GM to sign a contract this week.
By then, the Canadian auto parts supplier needs to clinch a deal with Opel's influential labor leaders over annual savings of 265 million euros ($387.4 million).
Unions are negotiating with Magna and GM over a restructuring plan that would lead to thousands of job cuts across Europe.
Magna and the Russian bank have vowed to inject 500 million euros ($739 million) into Opel, aiming to use it to make an aggressive push into the Russian market, and plan to cut about 10,500 European jobs.
GM finalized a deal with Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery last Friday on the sale of its Hummer business, although the deal still faces a number of hurdles including regulatory approvals.
Henderson told a Shanghai news conference that it was not on his agenda during his trip to China to talk to Chinese regulators about the deal. He however said GM would do everything it could to support Tengzhong in getting approval from Chinese regulators, including the Ministry of Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission.
China's auto market, the world's biggest, got a strong boost this year from government policies, including tax incentives for small cars and subsidies for buyers in rural areas.
Henderson was upbeat on the prospects for the Chinese auto market, forecasting that it would continue to grow at a significant pace after strong sales rises in recent months.
I don't for a second think it is a blip. I think the China market will continue to grow and we see substantial opportunities, he said.
GM makes cars, minivans, pickup trucks and light commercial vehicles in a tie-up with SAIC Motor (600104.SS) and FAW Group.
It said last week that its China vehicle sales surged 55.6 percent in the first nine months of this year from year-earlier levels, surpassing forecasts.
Full-year sales growth is expected at more that 40 percent, according to GM China chief Kevin Wale.
($1 =0.6767 Euro)
(Reporting by Fang Yan and Edmund Klamann; Editing by Chris Lewis)