Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that Ger­many’s talks with General Motors Co. over the future of its Opel unit are focused on Berlin’s preferred bid, by Canadian auto parts giant Magna International.

But she softened her insistence that the deal be reached swiftly, saying substance — not speed — was paramount.

Merkel’s government hopes to see Opel sold to an investor group led by Magna, which includes Russian state-owned bank Sberbank.

“We are negotiating with the Americans over questions that remain regarding Magna’s offer,” Merkel said.

The German government favours an offer from Magna and Sberbank over an offer from Brussels-based investor RHJ International SA, because fewer jobs are at risk under Magna’s offer.

Opel employs about 25,000 people in Germany, about half of GM Europe’s total workforce.