Magna Confirms Talks Eyeing Stake in Opel

Magna could potentially take a minority stake in Opel

Magna, the Austrian-Canadian car parts manufacturer, confirmed on May 4 that it was in talks that might see it take a minority stake in German automaker Opel. Magna said it was holding talks with Opel, General Motors and German government officials regarding "potential alternatives for the future of Opel, which could include Magna taking a minority stake in Opel." But it said that there was "no assurance" of any transaction resulting from the talks.

Magna's chief executive Frank Stronach said in a newspaper interview last week that his company wanted to help Opel but had no plans to acquire a direct stake. "We don't see ourselves as a savior. We only want to help. If one of our customers is in trouble, we will always look to see what we can do," Stronach told the Graz regional daily Kleine Zeitung. "The same goes for any partner. But we first take a look to see if it's healthy for Magna."

Magna, founded by Stronach in 1954, calls itself "the most diversive automotive supplier in the world," supplying virtually every major automaker -- including Opel. Stronach insisted that Magna was in good shape, despite the global crisis. "We've got around $1.5 billion cash in the bank. We can easily enter into a deal without putting ourselves in jeopardy," he said. But Stronach declined to elaborate how any potential aid package might look.

Opel's U.S. parent company General Motors is fighting for its own survival and is therefore looking for an investor in Opel with a view to eventually spinning it off. Italian group Fiat is mooted to be interested, but German politicians have publicly stated they would prefer a tie-up with Magna.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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