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GM's Forster says Opel sale to Magna may conclude soon

NEGOTIATIONS for the sale of General Motors Corp's unit Adam Opel GmbH to Canadian auto parts maker Magna are progressing well and should soon be complete, the head of GM Europe said in remarks released over the weekend.

GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster was quoted as telling the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he hoped the sale of Opel to Magna International Inc could be complete by mid-July.

"It's only about the details," he was quoted as telling FAZ, according to a copy of remarks released before publication in yesterday's newspaper.

"After the meeting between the heads of GM and Magna, I am extremely confident a comprehensive agreement can be reached," Forster said.

Last week Magna Chief Executive Siegfried Wolf said his company "wants to come to an agreement by July 15."

Forster said Wolf was "putting the pressure on - and that is good."

Magna and Russia-based Sberbank signed a nonbinding agreement in May that envisages Sberbank taking a 35 percent stake and Magna a 20 percent stake in the GM subsidiary.

The deal was touted in Russia as a major coup for the country's troubled auto industry - based on signals that Magna would produce Opel cars in Russia.

But the German government has said it is still talking with other bidders despite the ongoing negotiations with Magna.

Forster was sharply critical of such comments, telling FAZ "there is too much talk."

"A lot of people are talking who have nothing to say," he was quoted as saying.

Forster said talks with other investors were nowhere near as far along as those with Magna.

"Magna has a very substantial advantage," FAZ cited Forster as saying.

He said issues over Opel patents have largely been sorted out with Magna, and that the two companies were now talking largely about how it would operate in Russia.


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