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Fiat, Magna, investment firm are three finalists to buy Opel

Thu, 21 May 2009

Italian automaker Fiat, Canadian parts maker Magna International and Belgian investment firm RHJ International look to be the final three bidders for General Motors' Opel subsidiary.

Fiat has confirmed that it put in a bid for Opel. Final bids for Opel were due Wednesday evening.

GM faces a June 1 deadline from the U.S. government to restructure its business and win concessions from holders of its debt in order to get more loans. But GM has warned that it doesn't foresee a debt deal being completed before the deadline. A growing number of observers expect GM to file for bankruptcy protection on June 1 or soon after, following a strategy the government pushed onto Chrysler in early May.

The German government is also playing a role in the Opel negotiations. Germany is expected to provide billions in loans to the new owner of Opel.

Even with a sale, GM will likely still be linked with Opel. Many of the automaker's current and future midsize and larger vehicles use platforms developed by Opel and GM's European engineering corps.

Fiat, which is poised to take control of Chrysler when it emerges from bankruptcy, is working on a plan to combine Fiat, Chrysler and Opel to create an automaker that would be second in size to Toyota. But Opel's union leaders are wary of joining with Fiat.

By Dale Jewett