General Motors Co may finalize a deal this week to sell a majority stake in its European carmaking arm Opel to a Canadian-Russian consortium, its CEO said on Tuesday, as the firm sheds unwanted brands. Talks with governments and labor representatives on the Opel restructuring that is set to lead to thousands of job cuts across Europe have dragged on for months, fuelling anger among staff, half of whom are in Germany.
Spanish labor unions said on Tuesday no agreement had been reached with Magna over jobs in Spain at the Opel factory in Zaragoza.
On Monday, Britain, home to Opel's British sister brand Vauxhall, which employs around 5,500 people, said progress was being made but there were still issues to be settled.
GM decided last month to sell a 55 percent stake in Opel to a consortium including Canada's Magna and Russia's Sberbank.
It's quite possible to see documents signed this week, GM CEO Fritz Henderson told reporters in Shanghai.
German Gref, CEO of Russian partner Sberbank, told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday that he did not know when Magna would sign the deal. When we start to sign, we will announce it, he said.
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.
Magna co-CEO Siegfried Wolf was due to meet Spain's industry minister in Madrid on Tuesday.
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.
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 and FAW Group.
(Reporting by Fang Yan and Edmund Klamann; Additional Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva and Jonathan Gleave; Additional Writing by Helen Massy-Beresford; Editing by Chris Lewis and Simon Jessop)