5 Min Read
* FT says GM close to Opel deal with RHJ
* GM Europe says talks with Magna other bidders ongoing
* Qatar submits written offer for deal with Porsche
* Germany's KfW rejects Porsche loan application
(Adds GM Europe comment, more details from Porsche)
By Anne Jolis and Christiaan Hetzner
BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT, June 30 (Reuters) - Efforts to save two leading European carmakers took a twist that could change the ownership of both crisis-hit General Motors Corp's GMGMQ.PK Opel and German sportscar maker Porsche (PSHG_p.DE).
As GM readied for a bankruptcy hearing in the United States, GM Europe said it was talking to other potential buyers for Opel as it worked through snags with preferred bidder Canadian-Austrian auto parts group Magna International MGa.TO. [ID:nN29399207]
The potential buyers include Belgium-based holding company RHJ International RHJI.BR and Beijing Auto, a GM Europe spokesman said. Both companies have previously bid for Opel.
The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that RHJ was close to a deal to buy a stake in Opel. [ID:nLU10757]
In Germany, Porsche Automobil Holding SE (PSHG_p.DE) said it would seek alternative ways to finance its debt after state-controlled bank KFW [KFW.UL] officially rejected a 1.75 billion euro loan application. [ID:nLU480317]
Porsche has struggled to get loans to refinance a 9 billion euro debt mountain it ran up in the course of a botched takeover attempt of Europe's largest carmaker Volkswagen (VOWG.DE).
Porsche said on Monday that Qatar had made a written offer to the Porsche and Piech families that control the Porsche automotive holding. [ID:nLT10323] Qatar's offer could help the company cut its debt and ultimately clear the way for a merger between Porsche and Volkswagen (VOWG.DE).
Porsche and Volkswagen (VOWG.DE) have been in talks to create an "integrated" automotive group after Porsche's debt burden forced it to drop plans for a full takeover of VW.
Talks on a stake in Opel between its parent, GM, and Magna have been going on since Magna clinched an preliminary agreement just before GM's bankruptcy filing in May, pipping Fiat FIA.MI to the post at the time.
"GM is working through negotiations with Magna. It's typical in negotiations of this type that difficulties arise and we're committed to working through those difficulties to get a definitive agreement as soon as possible," a GM spokesman said.
"In the meantime we continue negotiations with other potential partners including RHJ and Beijing Auto," he added.
RHJ was named as a potential Opel buyer in media reports but never confirmed or denied it had made an initial bid let alone a second, improved one. But according to the Financial Times, RHJ has improved an earlier bid and is being taken "very seriously" by GM and a memorandum of understanding could be signed in days.
Magna has teamed up with Russian automaker GAZ (GAZA.RTS) and state-controlled Sberbank SBER03.MM for the bid.
RHJ and Magna declined to comment, as did Fiat whose chief executive Sergio Marchionne has said he wants to focus on Chrysler [CBS.UL] -- in which it has taken a 20 percent stake -- after the Italian automaker's bid for Opel failed, and that its existing bid for Opel was the best it could do. [ID:nLQ505734]
In the United States, GM is due to seek approval from a court on Tuesday to sell its assets to a "New GM" in a plan to reinvigorate the automaker under government ownership.
Also on Tuesday, Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) offered to allow customers to lock in fuel prices for new vehicles in a sales promotion aimed at soothing the economic worries of American consumers. [ID:nN29402029]
And German automotive supplier Continental AG (CONG.DE) said it was interested in a proposal from Syrian-owned MAG group to buy a tyre factory in Clairoix, France, that is due to be closed. [ID:nLU15861]
For a FACTBOX on the bidders click on [ID:nLU687997]
For a FACTBOX on RHJ click on [ID:nLK949044] (Reporting by Reuters reporters; Writing by Helen Massy-Beresford; Editing by Marcel Michelson and Erica Billingham) ($1 = 0.7143 euro)