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RHJ back in the running for GM

PRIVATE equity firm RHJ International yesterday re-emerged as a strong contender to buy GM Europe saying it would keep Vauxhall&rsquo;s two UK plants open and would make the European unit profitable by 2011.<br /><br />The firm said it is has been in &ldquo;advanced&rdquo; negotiations for several weeks with GM and now felt it was &ldquo;appropriate to confirm these talks.&rdquo; <br /><br />RHJ pulled out of talks in May, leaving Canadian car parts maker Magna as the front-runner to take over GM&rsquo;s European business, which includes Opel and Vauxhall.<br /><br />But it is now back in the race for the business, along with Beijing Automotive Industries, which yesterday also confirmed it had bid for a stake in Opel.<br /><br />RHJ is reported to require only &euro;3.8bn in state aid as part of a deal for a majority stake in Opel, against an expected request of &euro;4.5bn from Magna.<br /><br />But Magna was yesterday pushing ahead for a formal deal to be signed within the next few days.<br /><br />Earlier in the summer Magna offered to pay &euro;700m (&pound;610m) for a 55 per cent slice of GM Europe and has handed over &euro;300m of emergency funding to keep the group afloat.<br /><br />Magna had previously hoped to seal a deal by 15 July.