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General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, left, speaks as United Auto Workers President Bob King listens at a news conference at the start of national contract negotiations at the General Motors Hamtramck Assembly plant in Hamtramck, Mich., Wednesday, July 27, 2011.

Paul Sancya/AP/Paul Sancya/AP

General Motors Co chief executive officer Daniel Akerson has weighed in strongly on the future of its Opel business, saying the European unit was not for sale.

"We don't comment on speculation - and there has been a lot of speculation - but I will say this: Opel is not for sale," Mr. Akerson said at a news conference on Wednesday when asked about Opel's future.

Mr. Akerson was speaking at a GM plant to officially launch labour talks with the United Auto Workers union.

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Speculation about Opel's future began in early June with reports by German media the European unit could be sold and that possible buyers included Chinese auto makers or Volkswagen.

Opel chairman Nick Reilly said on June 30 that GM was "very satisfied" with Opel's progress, but failed to quash rumours GM was mulling a sale.

However, Opel remains a high-cost player in a low-growth region, in a segment dogged by cutthroat competition, leading to speculation of a sale or labour concessions by its workers.

Earlier this month, when criticizing VW chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn for speculating on Opel's fate, GM failed to address specifically whether Opel was for sale.

German government leaders and Opel union officials have been frustrated by GM's refusal to address the rumours directly.

Opel officials were not immediately available to comment on Wednesday.

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