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by Matt Brogan

Russian carmaker GAZ has confirmed its interest in creating a joint venture with Magna International and Opel.

Magna is competing with Fiat for General Motors’ European business, centered around Opel.

Both companies have presented proposals for the carmaker to the German government, which is being asked by GM to provide financial guarantees to Opel.

While expressing interest in Opel, debt-laden GAZ appeared also to distance itself from the bidding process.

“The role of GAZ Group in the project would potentially consist of organising manufacturing of passenger cars on its modern high-tech passenger car production site built in the Nizhny Novgorod plant in 2008,” the company said in a statement. “GAZ Group has a positive record of collaborating with Magna International and General Motors Europe on project development for the manufacture of popular cars for Russia and CIS markets.”

GAZ has long denied any involvement in the bidding process and has said it does not need Opel at a time when it is reshaping its Russian operations.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said over the weekend that Magna had asked GAZ and unnamed Russian financial institutions to make a bid for a stake in Opel.

German media reports say Magna and GAZ could create a car giant producing up to 5 million vehicles a year.

Fiat is seeking a three-way merger with Chrysler and GM’s European operations, including Opel, Vauxhall and Saab.




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