Chinese carmaker Beijing Automotive (BAIC) aims to outmaneuver Canada's Magna in the race for General Motors unit Opel with an offer that foresees less state aid and fewer job cuts.
BAIC's non-binding offer document for Opel, which was obtained by Reuters on Tuesday, shows that the state-owned group would use the Germany-based carmaker to tap the huge and growing Chinese market.
The offer hinges on GM's agreement to share crucial propulsion technology such as fuel cells and hybrids that cut pollutants sharply.
As you may know, industrialization of a developing country such as China needs to have access to intellectual property. This is a top priority for the Chinese government...This is the key driver to Beijing Auto's potential acquisition of Opel NewCo, the offer to GM states.
The plan, which comes even as bankrupt U.S. group GM and Magna negotiate final details of an offer for GM's European operations centered on Opel, would give BAIC 51 percent and GM 49 percent of the new Opel.
Magna, the Canadian automotive supplier, is counting on the potential of the Russian market. It intends to take a 20 percent stake but have its Russian banking partner Sberbank hold 35 percent of Opel, giving them a combined majority.
BAIC would invest 660 million euros for the majority stake and would need a 6-year loan of 2.64 billion euros at an expected interest rate of 8.1 percent, which would be guaranteed by European governments.
The offer values 100 percent of Opel equity at 515 million euros and assigns the company an enterprise value of 4.45 billion euros as of the end of May.
Magna wants 4.5 billion euros in European state aid to help it get Opel back on its feet. The Berlin government chipped in a 1.5 billion euro bridging loan in late May when arranging a last-second rescue of Opel before GM went bust.
BAIC intends to use key technology from General Motors to help it sell nearly half a million Opels in China by 2015.
It plans to build up a network of 400 dealerships in China that could sell an annual total of 485,000 units of the Opel Corsa, Meriva, Zafira, Antara, Astra and the old Vectra models in China.
After initially importing a total of 60,000 Opels into China in 2010 and 2011, it wants to invest $2.25 billion overall into domestic production due to begin in 2012.
Output would start at 200,000 units before growing to a capacity of 500,000 vehicles annually by 2015.
BAIC plans to reduce the German carmaker's manufacturing footprint in Europe by eliminating 7,584 jobs, including just over 3,000 in Germany alone.
The Magna plan foresees a little over 10,000 job cuts in Europe, German government officials have said. Opel employs a total of 25,000 staff in Germany and roughly double that in Europe.
Under the BAIC plan, some 1,300 jobs would go in Zaragoza, Spain, 1,608 in Bochum and 1,160 in Opel's main German site in Ruesselsheim.
It plans to stop production at Opel's Antwerp plant until the end of March 2010 and cut 2,446 jobs in Belgium, warning it would contemplate closing the plant permanently.
(Reporting by Gernot Heller, writing by Christiaan Hetzner and Noah Barkin; Editing by David Cowell)