GM opposition to Magna waning: German politicians

Wed Aug 5, 2009 1:22pm EDT
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By Angelika Gruber and Kevin Krolicki

FRANKFURT/DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co and Magna International Inc have narrowed their differences in talks over the Canadian supplier's bid for Opel and only a small number of issues are still pending, German politicians said on Wednesday.

Magna is locked in a battle for European carmaker Opel with Belgium-based financial investor RHJ International SA, but GM has yet to make clear its preference.

Germany, which is set to provide state aid to Opel, and GM have to agree on a buyer for Opel, but there has until now been no sign of consensus, with German politicians sounding far more enthusiastic about Magna's bid.

"GM and Magna have moved closer together. A good deal of the critical points have been settled," Hendrik Hering, economy minister for the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which houses an Opel factory, told Reuters.

His comments echoed comments from other officials after a round of talks on Tuesday.

The four German states with Opel plants are closely involved in negotiations on the carmaker's future and have offered bridge-financing to keep it afloat until a partner is found.

The next step is for GM's board to make a formal recommendation on a bidder. Then the Opel Trust, comprising GM and German representatives, has to approve the buyer.

GM Chairman Ed Whitacre said talks on Opel were ongoing.   Continued...

<p>The Reichstag building, seat of the German lower house of Parliament Bundestag, is reflected in an Opel car emblem in Berlin, August 4, 2009. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz</p>