FRANKFURT - General Motors' European arm Opel expects to get by the end of May a final response from the German government to its request for aid, initially amounting to 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion).
We have been given an indication that they (Germany) hope to give us an answer by the end of this month, Opel Chief Executive Nick Reilly told reporters on Friday on the sidelines of a meeting hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce.
Having secured aid pledges from other European states with Opel plants including Britain and Spain, Opel would now need a somewhat lower amount than first targeted from Germany, where the unit is headquartered and employs half its staff.
We have a reasonable idea how much in guarantees we would get from other countries and we indicated that to Germany. So it might be a little less than the 1.5 billion, Reilly added.
The German Economy Ministry said on Friday that the committee responsible for state guarantees would meet next week to discuss aid for Opel.
The steering committee and council need to discuss the aid before a decision could be reached, a ministry spokeswoman said.
GM last year drew the anger of European governments and workers when it scrapped plans to sell Opel and asked them to contribute to the cost of returning the carmaker to profit.
Germany -- asked to provide the lion's share of aid -- had been cool to the idea of funnelling taxpayer funds into Opel after GM abandoned a sale to Canada's Magna that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had helped to arrange.
Reilly said the European car market was not as bad off as he had previously expected, giving Opel a good chance to break even next year and make decent money in 2012.
The market is weak, but not as weak as we thought, he explained, adding that he had added around 500,000 units to his forecast for European car demand in 2010. (Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner, writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Michael Shields)