General Motors Co is confident that it can find the financing to keep and restructure its European Opel unit, Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said on Thursday.
Henderson declined to say how many jobs would have to be cut at Opel or what plants would be closed, saying those details would be presented to Germany and other European governments soon as part of a restructuring plan.
Opel has the liquidity it needs to pay off the 900 million euros ($1.34 billion) remaining on bridge loan from the German government.
At the same time, GM can find ways to provide financing to Opel from its U.S. operations even after a restructuring funded by U.S. taxpayers that had placed some initial restrictions on the automaker's ability to shift funds to its overseas units.
GM's decision to keep Opel rather than selling a majority stake to a group that includes Canada's Magna International and Russia's Sberbank has touched off controversy in Europe.
Thousands of Opel workers in Germany on Thursday downed tools in a protest.
We will be very shortly presenting our plan, Henderson told reporters at a briefing at GM's headquarters. We feel confident that the plan will be financeable.
Henderson said GM could provide liquidity to Opel by reducing the royalties that the European unit would otherwise pay to headquarters.
The terms of GM's exit from bankruptcy in the United States after taking $50 billion in U.S. government financing also allow GM to send funding directly to Opel if needed, he said.
We are able to run a global business. We certainly need to be prudent about it. We need to be careful about it but we can run a global business, Henderson said.
Henderson acknowledged that the automaker had work to do to repair its relations with the European unions.
GM's Opel unit was rescued temporarily by a bridge loan from the German government that requires repayment by the end of November.
GM is outperforming its financial plans since emerging from bankruptcy in July and now sees more stability around its sales forecasts, Henderson said.
Henderson said the GM board meeting this week that scrapped plans to sell Opel had been very vigorous.
(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki, writing by David Bailey, editing by Dave Zimmerman)