Fiat SpA is convinced it has more than a 50 percent chance of succeeding in its bid for Opel because it does not think the other contenders have the expertise to revive the car maker, an Italian newspaper said.

But General Motors Corp , which is selling Opel, has Fiat at the bottom of a list of three contenders, German magazine Der Spiegel said in its online edition, citing what it described as an internal GM ranking list of the bids.

At the top is Magna International , a Canadian-Austrian car parts group that also submitted an offer in Germany at Wednesday's deadline, it said.

Magna is joined by GAZ , Russia's second biggest car maker, which confirmed it would act as its industrial partner.

Citing unidentified GM insiders, Der Spiegel said GM had reservations about Fiat because the Italian industrial group was a partner of its U.S. rival, Chrysler LLC.

Fiat wants to merge its car business with Opel in an ambitious plan to create the world's second biggest group after Toyota Motor Co <7203.T>. Its bid includes GM's British brand, Vauxhall, but not Saab, which is being sold separately.

GM is selling Opel and its other European brands as it hurries to complete a restructuring ahead of a June 1 deadline set by the U.S. government, which is helping it out with loans.

GM will consult the German government before choosing the winning bid because Opel, which is based in Germany, will likely get billions of euros in financing from the government.

Fiat Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo told reporters a decision would not take long, with a source close to the Italian group later telling Reuters it could take up to 10 days to get an initial indication.

German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said Opel's unions had prepared an emergency rescue plan in case none of the bidders had a winning concept.

The third contender on the list is RHJ International , an industrial holding group based in Brussels.


Speaking to members of the Agnelli family at a private meeting on Wednesday, Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne expressed confidence in the success of the group's bid.

Fiat has more than a 50 percent chance of pulling off its bid for Opel, he was quoted as saying by La Stampa newspaper.

The Agnellis founded Fiat more than 100 years ago and still hold a controlling stake in it. They also own La Stampa.

At the end of the day, our's is the only offer that has real content and makes industrial sense, he said. The others either do not have productive clout or are basically financial: and we have seen with Cerberus , the investment fund that controlled Chrysler, just how weak such solutions can be.

Cerberus, a U.S. private equity firm, is desperate to get out of Chrysler after losing billions of dollars on its investment in the bankrupt U.S. car maker. It bought a majority stake in it from Germany's Daimler AG before a crisis struck the car industry last year.

Just days before expressing an interest in Opel in early May, Fiat formed a partnership with Chrysler that could see it replace Cerberus as majority shareholder in the U.S. car maker.

La Stampa said Marchionne understood the German unions favored Magna for fear that Fiat could shut down plants.

Maybe the unions like them (the other contenders) because they reckon they can have an influence over certain managers who are expert only in finance and not in industry, he said.

Citing unidentified sources involved in the negotiations, German daily Frankfurter Rundschau said Marchionne was ready to guarantee the existence of all Opel plants for the time being.

In the meantime, Fiat was pushing elsewhere.

In China, a difficult market for Fiat, it planned to form a joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group to make cars, according to the Shanghai Securities News.