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Finish line nearing for Opel bailout?

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Johannes Eisele/Reuters

(Read caption) A 1937 Opel is displayed outside the Opel plant in Ruesselsheim, Germany on Friday.

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BERLIN – The bids are in for Germany’s beleaguered carmaker Opel. Now, the government here in the coming days will decide which one of three potential investors to back.

As expected, iconic Italian carmaker Fiat made its official non-cash bid for Opel, a subsidiary of Detroit giant GM, Wednesday (Fiat has already acquired a majority stake in Chrysler – to view a recent Monitor story on Fiat, click here). Also in the running is Magna, a Canadian car parts manufacturer, and RHJ International, a Dutch division of a US private equity fund.

The German government is scrambling to make a quick decision, which could come as soon as early next week. On Wednesday evening, lawmakers set up a special “Opel task force” to weigh all three bids.

“We do not have much time,” Labor Minister Olaf Scholz told Agence France Presse.

Ultimately, Opel’s fate rests with GM. But the German government’s opinion in the matter is seen as key, since any deal for Opel is going to involve hefty loan commitments from Berlin – as much as $9.3 billion, according to some estimates (for recent Monitor coverage of Germany's auto woes, look here).


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