updated 3/3/2009 1:27:43 PM ET 2009-03-03T18:27:43

GM Europe is negotiating with Spain, Britain and other European governments beyond Germany to get the $4.2 billion they say they need to keep operating, General Motors officials said Tuesday at the Geneva Auto Show.

GM's German-based Adam Opel GmbH unit has been in talks with the German government for financial support, but the GM officials made clear that the company wants to merge its European operations into a single entity in order to take the cash infusion they need to keep going.

Among GM Europe's subsidiaries are Germany's Adam Opel GmbH, Britain's Vauxhall, and Sweden-based Saab, which has been placed in bankruptcy protection.

"We are talking to governments outside of Germany. Obviously it started in Germany. We have half of our employment in Germany, most engineering capacity is in Germany. We have approached other governments," GM Europe president Carl-Peter Forster told reporters on the sidelines of the annual motor show.

Forster said GM Europe has been in talks with Spanish authorities, who have committed to  loan guarantees, and received "positive signals" from British officials. He said there were talks with other governments as well, but did not name them.

The German government has said it won't be rushed into a commitment, and has ask for further details.

General Motors chief operating officer Fritz Henderson said that part of the process to get its European operations back on its feet will be creating a European entity.

"An investment in Opel Germany doesn't make sense. We need to create a European entity ... It will take some plumbing work. It's not terribly difficult," Henderson said. "Our business needs to be looked at as a European business."

Forster said they need to achieve cuts of $1.2 billion as part of the plan it is presenting to governments. That could be most easily achieved by closing three factories, Forster said, noting that capacity utilization was running 30 percent below normal levels.

"It could be by far the best solution to just close plants. Our labor representatives have asked us to consider other measures," Forster said. They include voluntary resignations, salary cuts and work reductions.

"But make no illusions," Forster said. "It is not easy to get to $1.2 billion that we need to achieve. This is a lot of money we need to save to get our business viable."

Forster said GM Europe is convinced that with governments' help it can return to profitability by the end of 2011, assuming success of the new product line, which includes a range of models low on carbon emissions as well as the new Opel Ampera, an electric vehicle with an extended range from a gas powered engine.

But if the money is not forthcoming, GM Europe operations' risks failure in the second quarter, Henderson said.

"Use your imagination. We would become insolvent at that time. That's what would happen if we run out of cash," Henderson said.

That could cost 200,000 to 300,000 jobs between Opel workers and related suppliers and dealers, according to Forster.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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