MUNICH -- Opel could be forced into bankruptcy if General Motors Co. and the German government fail to agree on a buyer for the unit, Bloomberg news agency reported on Saturday.
The trust that controls Opel does not back an offer by Magna International Inc., Germanys preferred bidder, the news agency said, citing people close to the trust.
The trusts five-member board favors a bid from Belgian investor RHJ International or pushing Opel into insolvency, Bloomberg said.
Reuters reported last week that GM is willing to strike a deal with RHJ right now based on its current offer, but Germany and the four states which have Opel production plants signaled that they would be more willing to grant billions of euros in state aid if GM picks Magna.
Meanwhile, Germany is stepping up pressure on GM ahead of a meeting of the U.S. carmakers board, which starts on Monday and will review the rival bids.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier telephoned GM CEO Fritz Henderson to say that German government financial guarantees to Opel would only be available for an investor that was long-term and that would secure jobs, German daily newspaper Bild reported on Saturday.
Steinmeier is also vice chancellor in the current German coalition government and the Social Democrat (SPD) party candidate to succeed conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel in elections scheduled for Sept. 27.
Clear decision next week?
Kurt Beck, the premier of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, said on Friday he expected that next week there would be a "clear decision on a new start for Opel.
"The issues under dispute have been resolved," Beck. "We can decide now, if we want to decide."
Rhineland-Palatinate, along with the other German states with Opel plants and the German government, provided Opel with billions of euros in financial guarantees to keep the carmakers operations going when GM it went into bankruptcy in June.
The Opel Trust, which was set up as an interim owner of Opel, is overseeing talks with the bidders. It also has to approve any business decisions by Opel, including which bidder will win.
The German government's representative on the trust, ex-Continental CEO Manfred Wennemer, leans toward an offer from RHJ, while the states' representative, Dirk Pfeil, had raised the idea of insolvency, reports said last week.
The trust owns 65 percent of Opel, with GM holding the remaining 35 percent.
Writing on GM Europe's Web site last week, John Smith, GM's chief negotiator for the Opel sale, said Magna's bid "contained elements around intellectual property and our Russian operations that simply could not be implemented."
Smith said RHJ's bid would represent "a much simpler structure and would be easier to implement."
Smith said GM does not have a favored bidder and is talking with Magna to formulate a bid that can be implemented.
If it wins control of Opel, Magna wants to expand the brand in Russia, home of the supplier's bidding partner, Sberbank. Magnas plan could hit sales of GM's Chevrolet marque, which is the top-selling foreign brand in Russia.
Russia's No. 2 carmaker, GAZ, an industrial partner in Magna's consortium, is also seeking Opels technology, press reports have said.