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Russia’s GAZ confirms interest in Opel – paper

  Russian carmaker GAZ is reviewing an invitation to join a group bidding for General Motors’ European business, centred around Opel, a German newspaper reported, citing a GAZ spokesman.

Debt-laden GAZ is a partner of Canadian auto parts maker Magna, which is vying against Fiat to buy GM’s European business.

The Handelsblatt newspaper quoted a GAZ spokesman as saying GAZ would not contribute any financing to the takeover but would instead provide manufacturing facilities in Russia plus a sales and service network in the former Soviet Union.

GAZ and Russian bank Sberbank had repeatedly denied media reports that they were interest in the GM Europe business. GAZ declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Analysts estimate that GAZ, controlled by indebted metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska, owes around $1.5 billion, half of which is due this year. Its recent forays into the passenger car and commercial vehicle market have failed, they said.

Although much better off financially, state-controlled Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, has no interest in the automotive sector, and would only seek an Opel stake if the government put up the money and gave the order, analysts said. (Reuters)