Rival Bidder for GM's Opel Says Deal is Near

David Jolly|The New York Times

General Motors’ plan to sell its European operations to a Canadian auto parts maker and a Russian bank appeared Monday to be in trouble, when another bidder said it was nearing a deal for the unit.

R.H.J. International, a Brussels-listed industrial holding company, said in a statement that it was in talks with G.M. for the acquisition of a majority stake in the European subsidiary, Adam Opel, which includes the operations of Vauxhall in Britain.

“These discussions have been taking place over a number of weeks and are at an advanced stage,” R.H.J. said.

Magna International and Sberbank, a Russian lender controlled by the Kremlin, signed a tentative deal to acquire majority ownership of Opel in late May, just before G.M. sought protection from its creditors in a U.S. bankruptcy court. Magna International and Sberbank, who overcame rival offers from Fiat and from R.H.J., as well as a late expression of interest from Beijing Automotive Industrial Holding, said they hoped to have the outlines of the deal inked in by mid-July.

But those negotiations have been stuck for weeks, amid disagreements over the future of the company and rights to use its technology, and both G.M. and the German authorities have continued to explore their options with rival bidders. Any deal is contingent on government aid, giving Germany a deciding vote. Berlin has already agreed to provide €1.5 billion, or $2.1 billion, in short-term loans to keep Opel going.

Karin Kirchner, a spokeswoman in Zurich for General Motors, confirmed the companies were holding talks. “We have received proposals from R.H.J. International and Beijing Automotive,” she said, “and we are in discussions with them.” She declined to comment on the status of talks with Magna International.

Analysts have argued that a tie-up with Fiat made the most sense, but the Italian automaker’s desire to streamline and consolidate production raised fears among union and government officials that job cuts would fall heavily on German workers. Fiat has said that it remains interested in a deal but that it will not raise its offer.

Ms. Kirchner declined to comment on G.M.’s communications with Fiat.

As for Beijing Automotive, analysts are skeptical that it has the management skill to pull off a complicated international merger and run a giant European manufacturer.

General Motors emerged from bankruptcy on Friday, after a 40-day restructuring under Chapter 11.