Magna makes sweetened bid for GMEurope

MAGNA, the Canadian car-parts maker hoping to snap up a stake in General Motors&rsquo; (GM) European unit Opel, yesterday sweetened its offer for the coveted company, as the protracted bidding process nears its end.<br /><br />US carmaker GM, which is selling off its European arm as part of a massive restructuring, said yesterday it would review the new offer in the coming week and then put its findings to the Opel board, which controls 65 per cent of the unit.<br /><br />But the improved offer doesn&rsquo;t blow competing bidder, Belgian private equity firm RHJ International, completely out of the water.<br /><br />GM&rsquo;s chief negotiator John Smith has indicated that the terms of RHJI&rsquo;s offers are the most attractive. <br /><br />But Magna remains favourite to win the brand, which makes cars such as the Astra and Corsa, as it has the overwhelming support of politicians in Berlin, which is offering state aid to keep the firm afloat. <br /><br />Most of Opel&rsquo;s plants are based in Germany.<br /><br />&ldquo;This is the best solution for Opel and Opel workers,&rdquo; a group of politicians in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which hosts one of four Opel plants in Germany, said in a statement yesterday<br /><br />GM Europe said the company would review revised draft agreements on an Opel deal presented yesterday by Magna and Sberbank, stopping short of saying the remaining issues between GM, Magna and Sberbank had been resolved.<br /><br />GM, which is led by chief executive Fritz Henderson, must now pick its favourite bidder, in agreement with Opel.<br /><br />Meanwhile, the UK government yesterday said it was continuing its talks over the future of GM Europe&rsquo;s English plants in Luton and Liverpool, which build cars under the Vauxhall brand that dates back to 1857. Fears for jobs at the factories are growing.