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Russia gets a slice of GM's Opel operations in Europe


MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) - Germany and Magna International, backed by Russia's Sberbank and GAZ, reached a deal early Saturday that will see the consortium take over car maker Opel, part of U.S. car giant GM.

Magna, Canada's largest auto-component maker will acquire a 20% stake in Opel with Russia's state-owned Sberbank and car maker GAZ, owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, taking a 35% slice making the consortium a majority shareholder.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck announced on Saturday, "We have an agreement" after protracted late-night negotiations in Berlin between U.S. and German government officials, GM and Magna.

The other shareholders will be GM, who will retain a 35% stake with the remaining 10% being held by Opel employees.

Magna has said it will invest more than $700 million in Opel, which along with the Vauxhall brand, employs more than 25,000 people in Germany alone.

With General Motors expected to file for bankruptcy in the coming days, the move is seen as a lifeline for some of the 55,000 GM workers across Europe, however, Magna is expected to slash some 10,000 jobs, 2,500 are due to go in Germany.

It is expected that Magna will use Opel to move more of its operations into Russia, one of the fastest-growing car markets in the world.

As part of the deal the German government is expected to provide a $2.1 billion loan facility.

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