Opel decision expected soon

The chief negotiator for General Motors Co. said that there is not yet a preferred bidder for Germany’s Opel, though the negotiations are “coming to a point of decision.”

A GM logo is seen outside the GM-Opel manufacturing plant in Antwerp

BERLIN — The chief negotiator for General Motors Co. said that there is not yet a preferred bidder for Germany’s Opel, though the negotiations are “coming to a point of decision.”

In a post on the company’s blog, John Smith, GM’s group vice-president and chief negotiator on Opel, wrote that “despite media reports to the contrary, GM has NOT specified its preference for a bidder.”

Smith’s comments, posted on http://drivingconversations.gmblogs.com, were confirmed by GM Europe on Wednesday.

“After months of intense negotiations, we’re coming to a point of decision on a bid for Opel/Vauxhall,” he wrote. “To say it’s been an intense negotiation would be a dramatic understatement.”

GM’s new board is expected to meet Monday to decide on which bid to recommend to the German government, a person briefed on the discussions said.

Chief executive Fritz Henderson and Magna International Inc. (TSX:MG.A) chairman Frank Stronach met Tuesday to discuss use of Opel’s intellectual property, the main sticking point in the Magna offer, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

At issue is GM’s access to or control of Opel technology. GM’s global small and midsize cars, for instance, now are built on underpinnings designed by Opel, and future vehicles are based on them as well.

GM is insisting on keeping access to the technology. Tom Stephens, GM’s vice-chairman of global product development, said last week there is no scenario under which GM will not have full access to Opel’s intellectual property.

Smith’s post said that GM is still in talks with a consortium of Magna and Russian lender Sberbank, along with another bidder, Brussels-based investor RHJ International SA.

“This is a complex negotiation and we’re working with highly complex issues. Both bids being developed bring both opportunities and challenges both bids vary in how they would be implemented,” Smith wrote.

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