RHJ fights for GM Opel deal

RHJ INTERNATIONAL is stepping up its bid to broker a deal with General Motors for a controlling stake in Opel after talks between the US carmaker and Magna International stalled.<br /><br />The Brussels-listed industrial holding company, linked to US buy-out firm Ripplewood, is set to present GM with a better offer early this week.<br /><br />In May, GM signed a memorandum of understanding on the stake with Canadian Magna International, which is bidding with Russia&rsquo;s Sberbank. But RHJ now thinks it has a better chance of sealing the deal as negotiations between GM and Magna have stumbled over issues such as intellectual property.<br /><br />RHJ will say it needs a smaller amount of German government guarantees to finance the deal than Magna &ndash; &euro;3.8bn (&pound;3.27), compared to the &euro;4.5bn Magna is seeking. RHJ is targeting a stake of about 51 per cent to 55 per cent of Opel.<br /><br />RHJ&rsquo;s original offer backed GM&rsquo;s plans in a restructuring blueprint to close three Opel plants. Germany&rsquo;s government was unimpressed &ndash; and the new offer will include guarantees to keep plants open.<br /><br />Magna&rsquo;s bid enjoys strong support from Germany&rsquo;s unions, its central government, and local politicians in the federal states where it has plants.