Opel deal in flux, Fiat still interested

Fri Jun 5, 2009 2:13pm EDT
 
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By Gianni Montani

TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Signs emerged on Friday that Canada's Magna could face challenges to its deal for GM's European unit Opel as Fiat SpA said it was still interested and Germany invited rival bidders to improve their offers.

Fiat, the Italian automaker, lost out last week to the Canadian car parts maker Magna in bidding for General Motors Corp's Germany-based Opel and British brand Vauxhall, but Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the deal was not yet sealed.

"The interest is still there, it doesn't depend on us," he told reporters on the margins of a police ceremony in this northwestern city where Fiat is based. "The deal technically is not closed, we will see."

Asked about Fiat's other expansion plans, Marchionne said its interest in GM's Swedish unit Saab was "minimal" without Opel.

Fiat has no talks under way with PSA Peugeot Citroen SA, he said. The French company is often mentioned as a potential Fiat tie-up partner.

Fiat shares were up 0.39 percent at 7.73 euros at 1321 GMT. The DJ Stoxx auto indexwas up 2.34 percent.

Marchionne said Fiat had not yet used a 1.0 billion euro ($1.4 billion) line of credit it had with the banks.

Fiat has said its focus is turning around ailing U.S. car maker Chrysler. Marchionne had seen Opel as key to his goal of putting Fiat in the top ranks of world automakers by output.   Continued...

 
<p>An Opel logo is pictured at the Opel plant in Gliwice, some 350 km (219 miles) south of Warsaw, June 2, 2009. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko</p>