Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has come clean and told an Italian newspaper that Opel could be a perfect partner for Fiat.

"Now we have to concentrate on Opel. They are our perfect partner," Marchionne told La Stampa newspaper.

He also said that Fiat remained committed to Italy but needed to work with the government and unions on 'structural problems'.

On the deal just done he said: "The objective is to strengthen Fiat and give Chrysler a chance to clean itself up."

But the renewed focus on Opel will come as little surprise to many in the industry.

Fiat has been coy on the subject of GM's European operations, but his comments in La Stampa suggest that he will step up efforts to participate in a new plan for the company - in which GM has invited outside interest.

Marchionne has said that he expects industrial consolidation to result from the economic downturn.

Opel/Vauxhall's industrial operations, model mix and scale are seen as potentially both complimentary and synergistic to Fiat Auto. Marchionne is also seen by some as the ideal candidate to broker tricky negotiations on capacity reductions with labour unions and governments.

However, Magna is also thought to be interested in Opel.