General Motors CEO Dan Akerson has called the head of Opel in Germany to reassure him the company's European arm is not up for sale, according to a report in Germany's business daily Handelsblatt.

The call to Karl-Friedrich Stracke follows reports in the German media last week that GM was considering putting Opel - reported to have lost EURO9bn (US$13bn) since 1999 - up for sale again because of the slowness of its return to profit. Stracke said earlier this year that he expected a return to profit in 2011.

One report suggested China's Beijing Automotive Group has indicated interest in Opel; another claimed GM might sell the company if it received an offer more than the EURO1bn (US$1.4bn) it rejected in 2009 from a group led by Magna International.

Stracke rejected such reports are "pure speculation" while analysts point out that Opel and GM products are so closely linked, an outright sale would be very unlikely.

Last year GM launched a EURO3.3bn Opel restructuring plan. It wants to cut capacity by 20%, eliminate 8,000 jobs and redesign 80% of its model lineup.