The German government is examining competing plans to invest in
carmaker Opel and aims to decide by the end of the month whether to
provide the firm with financing guarantees, a leading Social Democrat
(SPD) said.

Italian carmaker Fiat is seeking a three-way merger with Chrysler and the European operations of General Motors , which include Opel.
Its main competitor appears to be Austrian-Canadian car parts maker Magna , which is seeking Russian backing for an investment in Opel.

government is comparing the two concepts in order to make a decision on
the required billions of euros in guarantees by the end of May, Peter
Struck, parliamentary leader for the SPD, told the BZ newspaper.

The SPD is junior partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in Berlin's uneasy grand coalition.

Sovereign wealth funds based in Abu Dhabi have also been rumored to have an interest in Opel.

United Arab Emirates Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri
denied after talks with visiting German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor
zu Guttenberg that there were any plans to invest in the
Ruesselsheim-based carmaker.

Guttenberg told reporters on the
trip that Germany was preparing for the possibility that Opel's U.S.
parent could be forced into bankruptcy early next month.

He said
that in the event of a GM bankruptcy, Opel assets could be handed over
to a trustee who would ensure the interests of creditors.

Guttenberg described this as a precondition for Germany providing financing guarantees.

I want to protect German taxpayers from investing in an uncertain
future for Opel and ending up caught in a game between GM and possible
investors, Guttenberg said.

Separately, Russian Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying in an interview with Japanese media
that Magna had asked Russian financial institutions and debt-laden
carmaker GAZ to bid for a stake in Opel.

are commercial questions. Everything needs to be carefully calculated,
Putin said. The Russian government is attentively following what is
going on.