Tony O'Kane | May 13, 2009

Russian carmaker GAZ has put its hand up for a significant stake in German brand (and soon-to-be-former GM branch) Opel, and will team up with Magna International should they be successful in snatching the company away from competing bidder Fiat S.p.A.

If Magna's bid gets them the keys to Opel, the role of GAZ would be to handle production of future Opel vehicles at its modernised plant in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. According to reports circulating in the German media, the Magna-GAZ tie-up could potentially churn out five million vehicles per year.

GAZ logoState-owned lender Sberbank would likely join Magna and GAZ, however at this stage its unclear what the ownership split would be. Indeed, there's still the issue of Fiat to contend with, for the Italian automaking conglomerate is determined to add GM's European divisions (Opel, Vauxhall and Saab) to its recent acquisition of Chrysler.

With Opel recently wheeling out the delectable Insignia and new Astra, it's arguably the jewel in GM's European crown. Competition for ownership is bound to be fierce, with GAZ/Magna and Fiat not the only interested parties. This could get interesting.

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