Opel talks shifting into high gear

Talks between General Motors Co., the German government and two bidders seeking to buy GM’s European Opel unit ended Tuesday with progress reported and GM saying it hopes to make a recommendation shortly on a buyer.

BERLIN — Talks between General Motors Co., the German government and two bidders seeking to buy GM’s European Opel unit ended Tuesday with progress reported and GM saying it hopes to make a recommendation shortly on a buyer.

“Progress was made clarifying issues from the best and final offers received two weeks ago,” GM said in a statement, without saying exactly when it would make a recommendation to the Adam Opel GmbH Trust board.

Earlier Tuesday, GM’s chief negotiator said a decision on a buyer wasn’t imminent.

GM’s John Smith said he hoped the meeting at the Economy Ministry in Berlin “further clarifies the issues from the best and final offers received two weeks ago.”

The two potential suitors for Opel are a consortium of Canadian car parts maker Magna International Inc. (TSX:MG.A) and Russian lender Sberbank; and the Brussels-based investor RHJ International SA.

GM said its new board of directors was updated on efforts to sell Opel when it held its first meeting on Monday, but received no recommendation on a buyer, given that talks with the bidders are ongoing.

Asked about his expectations of Tuesday’s meeting, Smith replied: “If you’re asking, do I expect to select one bidder? No.”

“Obviously we at GM will need to go back and take everything we’ve learned from today’s proceedings, consider it internally and get to a position on making a recommendation,” Smith told a news conference.