General Motors has ruled out a bid from China’s BAIC for Opel and will continue talks with the other two contenders.
The company said it presented its preliminary findings to the German Automotive Task Force and the Opel Trust Board on Wednesday.
“We had a good and thoughtful discussion around the key operating metrics and key issues associated with the three final offers we received on Monday evening”, said John Smith, GM’s chief negotiator for the sale of Opel. “We have agreed to continue detailed talks with both Magna and RHJI to secure Opel’s future.”
BAIC was not mentioned in the statement.
The Magna bid with state-controlled Russian bank Sberbank and automaker GAZ, won German government backing in May and it remains Berlin’s favourite despite reported GM concerns over intellectual property rights and Chevrolet distribution in Russia.
Authorities in Berlin hope to come to an agreement with GM in the next few weeks, a government spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday, although the final decision on the eventual successful Opel bidder will probably not occur for several months.
With German jobs on the line, Berlin is set to make loan guarantees for up to billions to sweeten any takeover deal.
Regional governments involved in the talks have also been also backing the Magna bid with the state premier of Thuringia saying that all four states where Opel has factories were behind the Canadian proposal.
In an interview with the local paper Thueringer Allgemeine Zeitung on Thursday, Dieter Althaus said: “The Opel states are united.”
Magna is the only potential investor likely to provide a sustainable future for the company and maintain the plants in the state, Althaus said.
Magna and Sberbank will each purchase a stake of 27.5% and seek EUR4.5b (US$6.4bn) in state guarantees.
Russian business daily Kommersant has reported that Magna would also demand that GM include intellectual property rights as part of any Opel deal – this has been seen as a sticking point for GM which will make the final decision.
Magna plans that GM would retain 35% of the business while 10% would remain with the 25,000 Opel employees.
RHJ International is seeking EUR700m less in state guarantees than Magna and plans to buy a 50.1% stake for EUR275m.
RHJ International is thought to be planning around 8,100 job losses Europe-wide in the Opel business, according to Reuters.
The German government said last May that Magna’s plan would entail the loss of around 2,600 jobs in Germany, with a further 8,500 elsewhere in Europe.
The company has said it would proceed with new Astra production at Vauxhall‘s Ellesmere Port plant here in the UK and continue building vans for the JV with Renault until the contract expires in 2013.