Germany's government and local states prefer the Magna bid to take over Opel, a key local official was quoted as saying after talks on the deal in Berlin on Friday.

The governor of the German Rhineland-Palatinate state, Kurt Beck, told AFP: "We are continuing negotiations but with the main focus on Magna."

Fiat and Brussels-based investment group RHJ International have also made offers for the GM unit.

There was a "consensus" between the federal government and the states, Beck told the news agency, after participating in the meeting with top officials including chancellor Angela Merkel and economy minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

Roland Koch, premier of the state of Hesse, where Opel's headquarters are situated, said after the meeting: "If we cannot get an agreement with Magna, then the two other bidders remain in the game."

Magna, backed by GAZ and Sberbank, is also the candidate preferred by GM, according to press reports.

Government spokesman Thomas Steg earlier on Friday told AFP the government would look most favourably on the bid which would secure the most jobs and the most factories in Germany.

According to a report to appear in Saturday's edition of the local paper the Rheinische Post, Magna would seek to cut 2,500 Opel jobs across Germany, AFP added.