Germany dismissed a report on Thursday that RHJ International had overtaken Magna as the front-runner to take over carmaker Opel, saying the race remained wide open.
Mass-selling daily Bild reported in its Thursday edition that Germany's Economy Ministry now favored RHJ, a Brussels-based investor. The newspaper did not give a source for its report.
The report is wrong, Jochen Homann, head of the government's Opel Task Force, told Reuters. A decision has not been taken in favor of one or the other bidder.
On Wednesday, a government spokesman said Germany still thought a deal with Canadian auto parts maker Magna provided a good foundation for Opel's future, but that it was ready to consider other buyers if they emerged.
In addition to RHJ International, China's Beijing Automotive has also made a bid for Opel, a European unit of U.S. carmaker General Motors .
Homann added that the 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in bridge financing the German government is supplying to Opel was not linked to one bidder but that future government guarantees would have to be negotiated.
(Reporting by Rene Wagner; Editing by David Holmes)