FRANKFURT, March 21 (Reuters) - German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said on Saturday he was talking to potential investors in troubled German carmaker Opel, rejecting a media report saying there were no serious bidders yet.
“I can only repeat: talks are being held with serious and less serious interested parties,” he told reporters at an event held by his Christian Social Union (CSU) party in Bavaria.
But he added that the interest of potential investors was crucially tied to the quality of a rescue plan for Opel’s U.S. parent General Motors (GM.N).
The Spiegel news magazine said in a report circulated before publication on Monday that there were so far no investors in sight. It cited officials who had been briefed by the economy ministry shortly after Guttenberg visited the United States.
Guttenberg met GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner on Monday. Both said it was essential for GM to find a private investor in Opel to lessen the burden on German taxpayers.
Guttenberg refused to say what kind of possible state support might be given to Opel, which needs 3.3 billion euros in aid either through state loans or guarantees to ensure its survival during the economic crisis.
Labour minister Olaf Scholz said the possibility of the state taking a stake in Opel should not be taboo. He made the remarks in interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper which ares due to appear in print on Sunday.
Referring to the demands made by Scholz, Guttenberg said: “What must not happen in any case is that money is spent before a sustainable basis (for Opel) has been created. That would be total nonsense.”
Opel chief executive Hans Demant told news magazine Wirtschaftswoche that Opel might become profitable after one or two years of aid. “After such a transition time, Opel will post clear profits again with which we would want to repay the credits,” he said in an interview in the magazine’s March 23 edition.
Reporting by Anna Holzer; editing by David Stamp