Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Saturday, 30 May 2009 10:26 UK

Profile: Car parts maker Magna

Opel sign
Magna was one of four bidders to come forward for Opel

Canadian-Austrian car parts maker Magna is the frontrunner to takeover Opel, the European arm of US carmaker General Motors.

Initially one of four firms interested in buying Opel, including Italian carmaker Fiat and China's Beijing Automotive Industry Corp, Magna is now in a straight fight with Brussels-based investment firm RHJ International.

The final decision about which company will win lies with GM, but the German government is putting strong pressure on the US carmaker to pick Magna.

Berlin made its preference known in May and has already provided a 1.5bn euro ($2.15bn; £1.3bn) bridging loan to prevent Opel collapsing, in order to protect German jobs.

On Thursday, it announced it would be prepared to give a further 4.5bn euros loan to Opel if Magna was chosen to take over the firm.

The German government favours Magna because it pledged to keep open all the firm's four German plants.

Humble beginnings

Based in Ontario, Magna is a Canadian car parts and assembly group that employs 74,350 people worldwide.

Frank Stronach in Berlin, 28 May
Magna's founder, Frank Stronach, emigrated to Canada from Austria

It was founded by Austrian emigre Frank Stronach, who arrived in Canada in 1954 with only the dollars in his pocket.

Three years later, he started a small business in a Toronto garage that over the succeeding decades grew into Magna International, one of the world's largest car parts manufacturers.

Outlining its plans for Opel, Magna said that 10% of the new firm would end up in the hands of Opel employees.

Magna plans to inject between 500m and 700m euros into Opel - none of which would go to GM. However, GM would keep a 35% stake in the company.

Magna's bid was backed by Russia's state-run Sberbank and Oleg Deripaska's truck firm Gaz, and it has said it wants Opel and GM to gain 20% of the Russian market in the short term.

Magna currently builds vehicles under contract for major carmakers, including Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

At the end of 2008, Magna had operations in 25 countries.

In the quarter to the end of March, the firm made a loss of $200m (£121m), hit by the global slowdown in demand for vehicles.

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