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Mon, Jul 06, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Chinese carmaker bids for GM’s Opel: reports

AFP AND DPA , BEIJING AND FRANKFURT, GERMANY

Chinese carmaker Beijing Automotive Industry Corp (BAIC, 北京汽車工業) is in the running for General Motors Corp’s European unit with a bid worth 660 million euros (US$922 million), reports said.

BAIC and GM China were both unavailable for comment when contacted yesterday.

BAIC submitted a non-binding offer for GM’s German-based unit Opel late on Thursday, just before a deadline for prospective buyers, the Guangzhou Daily newspaper, the Financial Times and Dow Jones Newswires said.

BAIC’s offer was said to be worth 660 million euros.

Russian state lender OAO Sberbank is also in the bidding for Opel in partnership with Canadian auto parts manufacturer Magna International Inc.

The German government in May announced a rescue plan for Opel in which 35 percent of the firm would go to Sberbank and 20 percent to Magna, but talks have bogged down since.

According to the FT, RHJ International SA, a Brussels-based industrial holding linked to US buy-out group Ripplewood Holdings, has also made a non-binding offer.

Fiat SpA is also interested in Opel, but has pledged no cash for the stake.

The head of GM Europe has said he hopes Opel will be bought by Magna by the middle of this month and that the Canadian firm has a “considerable lead” on other possible buyers, a report said.

In a newspaper interview published yesterday, GM Europe’s chief executive Carl-Peter Forster told the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) that the sale of Opel to Magna was on track for completion this month.

“It’s only a matter of details now,” he said.

Forster was confident there had been broad agreement at a top-level meeting between GM and Magna. He could not say when the contracts would be signed, but said: “It would be great if this would work by mid-July.”

The GM executive said the head of Magna, Siegfried Wolf, had been applying pressure. “That is a good thing,” Forster said.

Dieter Althaus, the State Premier of Thuringia where Opel has a factory, reiterated that little stood in the way of the deal with Magna and its partners, Russian state-owned Sherbank and carmaker GAZ.

Magna planned to separate its car parts manufacturing business from Opel, the German news magazine Focus reported. This was to benefit Opel competitors who bought car parts from the Canadian-Austrian manufacturer.

Forster told FAZ that other Opel bidders had not proceeded as far as Magna in their talks with GM, adding: “Magna has a very clear lead.”

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