RHJ offers $388m for Opel
Berlin, July 18, 2009
Belgium-based investor RHJ International is offering 275 million euros ($388m) for a majority stake in General Motors' Opel business in a last-ditch bid to beat early frontrunner Magna.
RHJ's non-binding offer document, entitled "Project Beam" foresees production cutbacks and pay cuts for staff at the carmaker, which GM is selling amid a slimming programme to restore profitability, said a report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
With the plan, RHJ hopes to outmanoeuvre Canadian auto parts group Magna International, which secured the favourite's tag when it signed a memorandum of understanding with GM to acquire the Ruesselsheim-based group nearly two months ago.
Magna, backed by Russia's Sberbank, wants to use Opel to make an aggressive push into the Russian market.
RHJ plans a more traditional restructuring of Opel's European operations, which stretch from Germany to Belgium, Britain, Poland and Spain.
The pursuit of Opel is part of a broader consolidation of the car sector in Germany and beyond which was given added impetus by the global economic crisis. Because Opel has been placed under the ownership of a trustee in which both GM and the German government have a stake, the process of deciding a suitor has become more complex.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has voiced support for the Magna plan. Her spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm went even further yesterday, saying Berlin had a preference for the Canadian group's plan, which is also backed by the four German states where Opel has plants and by the carmaker's unions. – TradeArabia News Service