Rivals home in on Opel bid

MAGNA INTERNATIONAL, the Canadian car parts supplier in the top running to buy General Motors&rsquo; (GM) Opel brand, looked to be losing its grip on the deal this weekend, as Beijing Automotive Industry Holding also submitted a bid, and Belgian holding company RHJ International waited in the wings.<br /><br />The administration in Germany, where Opel is headquartered, chose Magna as the preferred bidder for the brand in May, but the deal&rsquo;s progress has been hindered as both sides fail to agree on the finer details of the sale. <br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;re waiting for the right deal,&rdquo; a GM spokesman said yesterday.<br /><br />Beijing Automotive has not given details of its non-binding proposal. RHJ is understood to be preparing an &ldquo;improved offer&rdquo; after it pulled out of the runnings earlier this year.<br /><br />Industry sources have said that a tentative deadline of 15 July had been set for GM and Magna to finalise a sale.<br /><br />&ldquo;The desire to get the deal sorted by mid-July would help GM come out of administration,&rdquo; GM said yesterday. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a firm deadline,&rdquo; it added.<br /><br />Meanwhile in the UK, business secretary Peter Mandelson said that the government would be willing to lend money if it would help complete GM&rsquo;s sale to Magna.<br /><br />&ldquo;We are prepared to financially underwrite that deal,&rdquo; he said, adding that aid could include loans and loan guarantees. <br /><br />Opel has two factories in the UK, in Ellesmere Port and Luton, which employ around 5,000 people.<br /><br />GM is selling off its European arm as part of a massive restructuring plan, which includes the bankruptcy of its US company, and thousands of job losses and factory closures worldwide.