RHJ raises its offer in war for GM'sOpel

City A.M. Reporter
BELGIAN finance investor RHJ International has sweetened its offer in the ongoing bidding war with rival Magna for GM&rsquo;s Opel, a spokesman for RHJ confirmed yesterday.<br /><br />RHJ has raised its stakes by offering &euro;300m (&pound;263.4m) in cash for a 50.1 per cent stake in Opel and said it would ask for only &euro;3.2bn in state aid. It pledged to then pay back that by 2013, a year earlier than initially planned. No other changes had been made to the bid, the spokesman said, adding that no cuts to investments or to product plans would need to be made as a result of RHJ&rsquo;s new bid arithmetic.<br /><br />Previously it had offered &euro;275m in cash and requested &euro;3.8bn in government loan guarantees.<br /><br />RHJ appears to be gaining serious momentum in its bidding war with Magna and its partner,<br /><br />The German government had previously favoured Magna over RHJ, which aims to shrink the carmaker to return it to profit. However the reduced level of state support RHJ would need would be attractive.<br /><br />Talks to sell Opel have dragged on for months and are a political hot potato ahead of German elections this month. GM is said to prefer RHJ&rsquo;s offer, because it believes a deal with Magna and its Russian lender Sberbank poses risks to its global intellectual property and the future of the business.<br /><br />Magna said on Friday it would create a &ldquo;firewall&rdquo; to ensure the safety of trade secrets should its Opel bid succeed.<br />