Demands for job guarantees at Siemens AG automotive electronics unit VDO moved to the centre of a takeover contest after two suitors were each reported to have bid more than $16 billion for the business.

TRW Automotive, which is controlled by The Blackstone Group, and Germany's Continental AG have both submitted offers worth more than 12 billion euros ($16.6 billion), Germany's Handelsblatt paper reported.

The paper cited financial sources for its report on Monday, which could not be immediately confirmed.

Siemens has said in the past a stock market listing is its preferred option for VDO but that it would also consider any offers its gets for the business, which has 10 billion euros in annual sales and a staff of 53,000.

Siemens labor representatives have said they prefer a flotation unless a buyer promises not to cut jobs.

One person familiar with the matter said that any deal between U.S.-based car parts group TRW and VDO would not trigger much in the way of additional job cuts or plant closures beyond what the two companies had already planned individually.

Many more cuts could emerge from a deal between Continental and VDO because the two companies had more overlap, the source said.

A union source told Reuters in April that Siemens was considering closing two plants and selling a third if it lists a minority stake in VDO on the stock exchange.

The moves could have affected around 4,000 workers, the source added at the time, although Siemens later made a deal that month to keep the threatened site at Karben open.

The Siemens supervisory board is due to discuss the future of VDO at its meeting on Wednesday. It will be a key test for new Chief Executive Peter Loescher because a sale of VDO is expected to raise more money that a flotation would bring.

Siemens shares eased 0.3 percent to 105.66 euros and Continental stock dipped 0.4 percent to 107.46 euros by 0828 GMT while the German blue-chip index slipped 0.1 percent.