Deripaska's GAZ would not seek stake in Opel: paper

MOSCOW Mon Sep 7, 2009 1:12am EDT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska's carmaker GAZ (GAZA.RTS), the Russian industrial partner in a Magna-led bid for Germany's Opel, is not interested in an equity stake in Opel, Deripaska told Vedomosti newspaper.

"We can help them set up assembly at our facility and offer our dealer network for marketing. There is no talk of buying a stake," Deripaska told the newspaper in remarks published on Monday.

Opel's U.S. parent GM is under pressure from the German government, which has come out strongly in favor of Canadian auto parts group Magna's MGa.TO bid, to settle on Magna or Belgian-based rival RHJ International (RHJI.BR) and make a "fundamental decision" this week.

But sources have said some GM board members favor keeping Opel.

The Magna bid is to be part financed by Russian state lender Sberbank SBER03.MM but Russia's largest bank is unlikely to be a long-term holder of the stake, which analysts believe is a key to the government's plan to modernize its backward auto industry.

The issue of handing over technology to Russia has been a thorny one. Deripaska - who was once denied a visa to the United States - conceded that Russian business was often not welcome abroad.

"In the Opel case the issue is also the U.S. State Department's superstitions," Deripaska said.

(Writing by Melissa Akin; Editing by Valerie Lee)

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