MILAN - Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne believes the Italian auto giant stands a more than 50 percent chance of pulling off its takeover bid for struggling General Motors' unit Opel, reports said yesterday.
Other suitors - Canada's Magna and the founder of U.S. investment fund Ripplewood - "do not have that industrial base," Marchionne said. "We have seen how weak that can be with Chrysler, which was controlled by investment fund Cerebus," he added. Fiat on Wednesday made a formal offer to take over Germany's Opel and Britain's Vauxhall, two European subsidiaries of General Motors which is on the verge of bankruptcy and being restructured with U.S. government help.
Magna, with support from Russian manufacturer GAZ, and Brussels-based RHJ International, whose main shareholder is the founder of the investment fund Ripplewood, also submitted offers.
Opel employs 25,000 people directly in Germany and its future is a major concern for the Berlin government. The final decision on Opel, as well as other units of GM Europe including Britain's Vauxhall and Sweden's Saab, lies with General Motors itself and with the U.S. government, but Berlin will sweeten any deal with loan guarantees.
GM is relying on more than $15 billion in emergency government loans and faces a June 1 deadline to complete major restructuring or follow fellow carmaker Chrysler into bankruptcy.
Fiat, which has already sealed a tie-up with Chrysler, wants to combine GM's European, Latin American and South African operations with Chrysler's to create the world's second largest carmaker behind Japan's Toyota. Fiat earlier negotiated a 20 percent stake in bankrupt Chrysler in exchange for its production technology.