GM’s Opel unit still up for grabs

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News is out today that Belgium’s R.H.J. may be close to a deal for Opel.

General Motors’ plan to sell its European operations to a Canadian auto parts maker and a Russian bank appeared Monday to be in trouble, when another bidder said it was nearing a deal for the unit, The New York Times’s David Jolly reported.

R.H.J. International, a Brussels-listed industrial holding company, said in a statement that it was in talks with G.M. for the acquisition of a majority stake in the European subsidiary, Adam Opel, which includes the operations of Vauxhall in Britain.

Fiat was also in the running for Opel, but their plans to streamline operations didn’t make the unions very happy.

As for R.J.H., Bloomberg expressed doubt as to whether this proposal would prevail.

Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. may be an acceptable buyer of General Motors Corp.’s Opel unit if talks with Magna International Inc. fail, said Armin Schild, a board member at the German division.

A proposal by private-equity firm RHJ International SA is unlikely to be a viable option because it’s “a completely different concept” that would raise “many new questions,” Schild, who represents the IG Metall labor union on Opel’s board, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Germany’s government, which is providing loan guarantees for Opel’s sale as GM works to emerge from bankruptcy, chose a team of Canadian partsmaker Magna and Russian lender OAO Sberbank on May 30 as its preferred bidder for Opel. China’s BAIC, Brussels-based RHJ and Fiat SpA, Italy’s biggest manufacturer, also submitted proposals.

  

Chinese company bids for GM’s Opel

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The Detroit News is reporting that another bidder has emerged for GM’s Opel unit.

General Motors Corp. has increased its negotiating options for its German subsidiary Adam Opel GmbH by obtaining a second offer from Beijing Automotive Industry Corp.

GM already is in talks to transfer control of cash-strapped Opel to a consortium led by Canadian supplier Magna International Inc. after concluding a preliminary deal on May 30.

But those discussions have hit stumbling blocks, with negotiators unable to agree on issues such as safeguards for GM and Opel proprietary technology.

GM continued talking to other potential partners, and GM spokesman Chris Preuss told Bloomberg News on Friday that Beijing Automotive had submitted an offer for Opel.

He did not elaborate except to say that it was a nonbinding proposal, like Magna’s.

Preuss said the talks with Magna remain on track.

Italy’s Fiat SpA and Brussels-based RHJ International SA also have expressed an interest in taking a stake in Opel. GM is also in talks with RHJ, an industrial holding company.

But Magna’s proposal prevailed in May, with both GM and the German government viewing it as the best solution for Opel. Berlin’s view matters because the German government is providing financial aid to Opel and trying to shield the Rüsselsheim-based carmaker from GM’s troubles.

The entire industry is being turned on its head, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  

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