Fiat confirms bid for Opel as GM splits up

FIAT, one of the three bidders eyeing German carmaker Opel, confirmed it had submitted an offer for the General Motors&rsquo; (GM) owned firm ahead of yesterday&rsquo;s deadline.<br /><br />Two other firms; Canadian-Austrian car parts group Magna and investment firm RHJ International have also entered formal bids for Opel, which ailing GM has put up for sale as it strives to restructure.<br /><br />The US parent company has a 1 June deadline to reorganise itself, and is expected to file for bankruptcy within weeks.<br /><br />Although GM will decide which bidder gets Opel, the German government will also play a big role because it is likely to provide billions of euros in financing to help any buyer.<br /><br />How far Berlin should go to prop up Opel, which traces its roots back to the 19th century, has become a topic of fierce debate in Germany ahead of an election in September.<br /><br />Italy&rsquo;s Fiat &ndash; which recently agreed to take a stake in GM&rsquo;s competitor Chrysler to help the US giant develop green technology &ndash; wants to add Opel and other GM Europe assets to its mix to create the world&rsquo;s second-largest auto group behind Japan&rsquo;s Toyota.<br /><br />Meanwhile, rival bidder Magna is considering a partnership with Russian automaker GAZ, if it succeeds in winning Opel, offering the carmaker a stronger foothold in Russia, seen as a key growth market once global economies recover.<br /><br />The third bid comes from Belgium-based holding company RHJ International, which has invested heavily in Japan in the past and is focused on the auto parts sector.<br /><br />Should GM be forced into bankruptcy, the German government is expected to shield Opel from creditors of its US parent until a buyer is finalised.<br /><br />It has a plan to place Opel assets with a trustee and provide&nbsp;bridge financing until a deal is completed. But there is resistance to this solution from members of Merkel&rsquo;s conservatives who are worried that the government may be over stretching itself to save a failing carmaker.