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Fiat chairman: GM’s Opel an “ideal” partner

  The chairman of Fiat SpA, which is in the process of acquiring US automaker Chrysler, confirmed the Italian automaker’s interest in General Motors’ German unit Opel, calling it an “ideal partner” and a possible takeover by Fiat an “extraordinary opportunity.”

It was the first confirmation from Fiat of its interest in Opel. Corriere della Sera published an interview with Fiat chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo on the eve of a reported meeting in Berlin between Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne and the German economy and foreign ministers to discuss an Opel takeover.

GM has been trying to find investors for its noncore and unprofitable assets as part of a restructuring in which it has sought billions of dollars in aid from the US government to avert collapse.

Opel has said it needs €3.3 billion ($4.3 billion) to get through the economic crisis. The German government has said it doesn’t foresee giving direct state aid. Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested the government could help an Opel investor with loan guarantees.

A Fiat takeover of Opel “would be for us an extraordinary opportunity, they would be our ideal partners, a very strong group would be created,” Corriere quoted Montezemolo as saying.

Fiat isn’t the only suitor for Opel, however. Last week, Canadian car parts maker Magna International Inc. presented German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg with what the minister called a “rough concept for a commitment with Opel.”

Guttenberg has said the German government would wait to determine its role in any full or partial Opel sale until after the US government had weighed in.

Fiat, meanwhile, has pressed ahead with a takeover of Chrysler, with attorneys for the US auto manufacturer saying the company would file a motion to sell substantially all of its assets to the Italian automaker. (Economic Times)