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Germany to unveil bidder for Opel by middle of the week

THE German government will likely settle on a preferred bidder for Adam Opel GmbH, the German unit of General Motors Corp, by the middle of the week, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said yesterday.

GM and Berlin are in a race against time to finalize a sale of Opel. GM has the final word but the government will likely give billions of euros in financing guarantees.

Canadian car parts group Magna International emerged as the favorite to win Opel last week, but Italian car maker Fiat has improved its offer since then. Belgian-listed holding group RHJ International is also in the running.

"It is the government's goal to clarify the Opel question by the middle of this week," government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told a news conference. "The government's aim remains to keep all four Opel plants in Germany open and to prevent an insolvency."

Wilhelm added that the talks were continuing with all three suitors and the bids were still being improved.

"There is further movement in their positions," he said.

Wilhelm also said that while talks are continuing with all three bidders, discussions have been most intense with Fiat and Magna because their offers are the most complex.

Earlier yesterday, Juergen Ruettgers, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia where an Opel plant is based, said he also expected a suitor to be picked by mid-week and he was pleased Magna improved its offer to preserve jobs in Bochum.

"I believe we'll have a decision by the middle of the week," Ruettgers told reporters. "It's good that there is competition to win the bid. That gives me confidence that there will not be any need for an insolvency."

Economy Minister Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg said on Sunday that the bids are inadequate and suggested an orderly insolvency might be the best way to rescue at least a part of Opel, which employs around 25,000 workers in Germany.


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