GM not planning to close Opel plants yet

GM not planning to close Opel plants yet
Photo: DPA
US auto maker General Motors has no current plans to close factories for its German subsidiary Opel, despite rumours to the contrary, the company said late on Tuesday.

But the company does plan to cut 47,000 jobs worldwide by the end of 2009. Some 30,000 of these cuts will be in the US, where five factories will close, company head Rick Wagoner announced at a press conference in Detroit. Another 17,000 job cuts will be at other plants around the world that have not yet been announced.

Wagoner said GM is discussing various options for Opel, but hasn’t decided anything yet.

The global financial crisis has taken a severe toll on GM as auto sales shriveled, forcing the company to go the US Treasury Department on Tuesday to ask for an additional $16.6 billion in aid to finish a restructuring plan – after already receiving $13.4 billion.

Opel employs some 25,000 German workers in Rüsselsheim, Bochum, Eisenach und Kaiserslautern. According to an anonymous source cited by news agency Bloomberg on Tuesday, Opel factories in Bochum and Antwerp, Belgium could be closed, and another factory in Eisenach, Germany sold.

This week the German media reported that state governments were working to split the two companies by taking a share in Opel. There was also speculation that talks between Opel and GM over a possible separation had been running for several weeks in Düsseldorf, and that Opel was trying to gain access to its own technologies because patents currently lie with a subsidiary of the US firm.