GM to release plan for European units in December

AP News
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Posted: Nov 20, 2009 6:51 AM

General Motors Co. said it expects to release a full restructuring plan for its Opel and Vauxhall operations in mid December, but did not specify the amount of cuts to capacity and jobs it would seek.

GM Europe released a statement late Thursday in response to what it said was a "misrepresentation" by the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), which claimed that GM wanted to maintain all its European plants.

GM Europe said it had to reduce capacity but that there are "multiple ways of reducing structural cost," and expects to provide details in a report next month.

Nick Reilly, GM's President of International Operations and interim European chief, was quoted in the FAZ interview as saying: "We do not 'have to' close any plants. What we have to do is to reduce part of our capacity. We have to reduce part of our structural costs. And there are different ways of doing this. We are not necessarily talking about full plants. But if we have ten plants and want to reduce capacity by 20 per cent, that does not mean that we have to close two plants."

GM clarified the interview's remarks with its own statement stressing that its first and foremost task is to reduce capacity.

GM shocked Germany and other European countries earlier this month by deciding to not sell the majority of its European operations Opel and Vauxhall to a consortium led by Canadian autoparts maker Magna International Inc. and Russian lender Sberbank. GM Europe workers were also prepared to buy a 10 percent stake.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had favored that deal to save jobs and she now says she wants GM to present a restructuring plan that gives Opel Europe and the German sites the chance of a good future.

However, doubts and protests over GM's decision have been raised by workers, analysts, labor officials and some politicians that question providing a U.S. company aid for restructuring.

Next week, the European Union in Brussels will host a meeting between GM and EU governments to discuss restructuring plans and aid for the company.

The governments of Belgium, Spain and Britain have also voiced deep concerns over the future of thousands of jobs.

Reilly has said in the past he estimated that between 9,000 and 10,000 jobs will be cut across Europe.

According to the company's Web site, GM Europe employs about 50,000 people at 10 European production facilities. European operations reported 2008 revenue of $34 billion and a market share of 9.4 percent, with a sales presence in more than 30 European countries.

GM Europe recently said it will move its headquarters to Ruesselsheim, near Frankfurt, from Zurich.

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