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Putin backs sale of Opel stake

RUSSIAN Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said yesterday that General Motors made the right decision to sell a 55 percent stake in Opel to a group led by Canada's Magna.

"I hope this decision is one of the first steps that will lead us to true integration in the world community," Putin told academics and reporters from the Valdai discussion group at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.

"GM made the right decision while taking into account the social consequences," Putin said.

Detroit-based GM will retain a 35 percent stake in Opel, with Magna and its Russian partner, state-owned bank Sberbank, taking 27.5 percent apiece, and workers the remaining 10 percent.

"Magna and Sberbank made their bid on overcoming the crisis though not forgetting the possible social consequences. Their proposal guarantees that jobs will be kept," Putin said.

Putin noted that Magna and Sberbank are in talks with trade unions.
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