As German government says deal is still possible

Magna chairman Frank Stronach plans to expand Opel/Vauxhall into Russia and the Far East, should the firm's deal to buy the brand be accepted by GM as he expects.

Stronach aims to complete the deal within two months. Under the terms of the bid submitted to GM, Magna would take a 20 per cent stake in Opel/Vauxhall, with its Russian bidding partner Sberbank taking a 35 per cent stake.

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He also plans to start selling Opel cars in Magna’s native Canada by the end of this year, before switching some production to the country in the coming years.

A condition of Magna’s bid is that it cannot sell Opel vehicles in the US, but Stronach expects some of the terms to change due to the close relationship Magna has built up with GM over their 50 years in partnership.

“I'm a great believer that if you come forward with a good programme, which makes a lot of common sense, that you can always change a few things, said Stronach. “I'm not worried about that. If it makes economic sense you can always change the contracts.”

Meanwhile, the German government has dismissed reports that private equity firm RHJ International has moved ahead of Magna in teh race to buy Vauxhall/Opel.

Jochen Homann, head of the German government's Opel task force, said all candidates were still being considered.

“The report is wrong,” he said. “A decision has not been taken in favour of one or the other bidder.”

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