GM says will not reopen Opel sale process

MILFORD, Mich Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:12am BST

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

The Reichstag building, seat of the German lower house of Parliament Bundestag, is reflected in an Opel car emblem in Berlin, August 4, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

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MILFORD, Mich (Reuters) - General Motors Co GM.UL has no intention of reopening the sale process for its European Opel operations and remains intent on reaching a deal with one of the two remaining bidders as quickly as possible.

GM Chief Financial Officer Ray Young said the automaker was looking to wrap up the Opel sale as quickly as possible even after improvements in its own financial position removed the immediate threat of bankruptcy for Opel.

"I think everyone is anxious to get this thing done," Young said on the sidelines of a GM event at its vehicle testing facility outside Detroit.

Canadian auto parts group Magna International MGa.TO is locked in a two-way competition with Belgium-based investor RHJ International (RHJI.BR) to buy Opel in negotiations that have also involved the German government.

Berlin has thrown its support behind Magna's offer, which is backed by Russia's Sberbank SBER03.MM, on the grounds that it offers better protection for the 25,000 jobs on Opel's payroll in Germany.

GM has expressed reservations about the Magna deal, saying it wants to make sure that its proprietary technology in Opel is protected in any partnership. Talks between GM and Magna last week failed to produce a deal for Opel.

GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson told Reuters Television in an interview on Tuesday that he did not expect to reopen the Opel sale to any party beyond Magna and RHJ.

"I don't think so," Henderson said when asked if a dark horse bidder could emerge for Opel.

Although GM is leading the talks on the Opel sale, the German government is being asked to provide billions of euros in aid to finance the deal.

With a federal election looming next month, the German government is keen to avoid an unpopular takeover and mass layoffs.

Separately, Henderson said GM would have an announcement by the end of August on production increases for the current and the coming quarter to respond to steadier demand in its home market.

GM emerged from bankruptcy in the United States in July under the majority ownership of the U.S. Treasury, which invested $50 billion to finance its turnaround.

The automaker still has an application pending for another $7 billion in low-cost funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to retool factories to make more fuel efficient vehicles.

Young said he expected GM would be close to completing the application for that $7 billion in funding in the next month or two and could submit additional loan requests for other projects.

(Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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