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GM, Opel seeking other offers

FRANKFURT, Jun 24 – Struggling US auto giant General Motors and German arm Opel are holding talks with several potential buyers, including the Chinese group BAIC, for the the unit, a report said on Wednesday.

Other offers, beside one submitted from Russian-backed Canadian company Magna, are welcome, the head of a trust company which is managing Opel, Fred Irwin, told the German business daily Handelsblatt.

A delegation from BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation) is to meet Opel managers this week and has been granted access to its accounts, as has the investment fund Ripplewood — a former bidder, the newspaper said.

"All interested parties have the same information rights," Irwin said.

He added that a letter of intent signed last month with Magna, which assembles cars and makes auto parts, was not contractually binding.

"We are in talks with several bidders. The outcome is open," a GM spokesman told the Handelsblatt.

In late May, the German government unveiled a rescue plan for Opel with General Motors, which has declared bankruptcy in the United States.

Under the plan, 55 percent of Opel was to be sold to Magna but talks have bogged down since and GM appears to be trying to put pressure on the Canadian company to obtain the best deal.

Ripplewood, acting through the holding company RHJ International, and BAIC had both expressed interest in Opel before the Magna deal was announced, but were eliminated following an examination of their offers.

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The Italian car maker Fiat had also bid for Opel.

Until a final agreement is reached, Opel is being managed by a trust company which is financed by German public credits.

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