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RHJ steps up its Opel offer

GENERAL Motors is rekindling talks with bidders for its European Opel unit and is thought to be close to signing a memorandum of understanding with RHJ, suggesting talks with lead bidder Magna have stalled.<br /><br />Canadian group Magna is understood to remain the preferred bidder &ndash; after signing a memorandum to buy 55 per cent of Opel with Russian Sberbank last month &ndash; but talks have run into problems after a disagreement over its access to GM&rsquo;s global technology.<br /><br />RHJ has put forward an improved offer, which is believed to take a softer line on the sensitive issue of job losses in Germany, which is providing &euro;1.5bn (&pound;1.3bn) of bridge finance to keep Opel stable while parent GM goes through bankruptcy proceedings in the US.<br /><br />And another contender, China&rsquo;s Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation (BAIC), is also tipped to be back in the process, having tabled a new offer for Opel.<br /><br />However, BAIC entered the sale process later than the other companies and talks are therefore less advanced. <br /><br />GM, RHJ and Magna were all unavailable for comment last night.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Toyota is understood to be considering a deal to supply a version of its Prius hybrid car to GM.<br /><br />A car carrying the GM badge but based on the Prius is one of the plans being considered for the firms&rsquo; jointly-owned California-based factory, after GM said the company would end assembly of the Pontiac Vibe there earlier than planned.<br /><br />Toyota President Akio Toyoda and GM chief executive Fritz Henderson will discuss the plans in August.