GM board discusses Opel, but automaker mum on talks

DETROIT: General Motors officials on Friday discussed the fate of a deal covering its European operations, including German unit Opel, but declined to immediately provide details.

"We're not going to be saying anything today," GM spokeswoman Julie Gibson said after a conference call among directors of the government-controlled auto giant's board of directors.

GM emerged from bankruptcy in July after wiping out 47 billion dollars in debt in a restructuring that left it majority-owned by the US government.

Now the 100-year-old company, once the world's largest automaker, is feeling the heat from Germany which wants it to sell Opel to Magna International, a Canadian auto parts manufacturer backed by state-owned Russian bank Sberbank.

GM, however, prefers a rival bid from Brussels-based investment group RHJ International.

Gibson reiterated that the next bid process steps by the GM board would include a review of the proposals and their financing implications.

"The board would then potentially come to a recommendation that would be communicated to the Opel Trust. The Opel Trust would need to approve the recommendation before any agreement can be signed, which would also be made public," she said.

Earlier this week, GM officials also said privately that there were still several issues that had not been resolved regarding the bid for Opel from Magna. Opel also is responsible for a large portion of GM's future product development.

GM officials have expressed concern about intellectual property rights protection, the ultimate fate of Opel in Russia and whether Magna would be willing to sell back its controlling stake to GM in the future.

They have also indicated that the terms offered by Magna's rival, RHJ, appeared more favorable to GM's long-term interests.

Magna, however, is favored by the German government, which is putting up the money for Opel's rescue.