Fiat Has “More Than 50%” Chance Of Success In Opel Deal

(Reuters) – The head of Fiat SpA said it had more than a 50 percent chance of succeeding in its bid for Opel, adding that the other contenders did not have the expertise to save the struggling car maker, according to a newspaper report.

Fiat submitted its bid for the General Motors Corp unit in Germany on Wednesday as part of an ambitious plan to create the second biggest car maker in the world after Toyota Motor Co.

Its bid includes GM’s British brand, Vauxhall.

The two other contenders are Canadian-Austrian car parts group Magna and industrial holding group RHJ International. Magna is joined by Russian car maker GAZ.

Speaking to members of the Agnelli family at a private meeting on Wednesday, Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne expressed confidence in the success of the Italian industrial group’s bid.

“Fiat has more than a 50 percent chance of pulling off its bid for Opel,” he was quoted as saying on Thursday by La Stampa newspaper.

The Agnellis founded Fiat more than 100 years ago and still hold a controlling stake in it. They also control La Stampa.

“At the end of the day, our’s is the only offer that has real content and makes industrial sense.

“The others either do not have productive clout or are basically financial: and we have seen with Cerberus, the investment fund that controlled Chrysler, just how weak such solutions can be,” he said.

Cerberus, a U.S. private equity firm, is desperate to get out of Chrysler after losing billions of dollars on its investment in the bankrupt U.S. car maker. It bought a majority stake in it from Germany’s Daimler before the crisis struck the industry and decimated sales.

Fiat has entered into a partnership with Chrysler that could eventually see it become majority shareholder in the U.S. car maker.

Marchionne acknowledged Germany’s unions’ opposition to Fiat as Opel’s future owner given their fears of plant closures and job cuts.

“Maybe the unions like them (the other contenders) because they reckon they can have an influence over certain managers who are expert only in finance and not in industry,” he said.

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Gilles Castonguay; Editing by Dan Lalor and Hans Peters)