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Opel's Bochum plant is safe, GM Europe boss says

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Opel's Bochum plant is safe, GM Europe boss says



NOVEMBER 24, 2009 11:56 CET

MUNICH -- Opel's plant in Bochum, Germany, will make future products and continue to play an important role in General Motors' European manufacturing network, GM Europe boss Nick Reilly said today.

Reilly made the promise during a meeting in Dusseldorf with North-Rhine Westphalia's state premier Juergen Ruettgers, Opel said in a statement.

Until today, GM has been reluctant to give any indication on which of its eight western and central European plants are safe from closure.

Reilly has said that GM must reduce its production across Europe by between 20 percent and 25 percent -- the equivalent of three plants -- as part of the 3.3 billion euros ($4.9 billion) plan. One of the plants seen most at risk is in Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bochum factory produces the Astra compact car and Zafira minivan for Opel and British sister brand Vauxhall. The plant is in North-Rhine Westphalia, which is Germany's largest state by population.

More details tomorrow

GM will present Opel's union leaders its reorganization plan on Wednesday. The U.S. automaker says it needs to cut nearly a fifth of the work force. The plan calls for eliminating between 9,000 and 9,500 jobs, Reilly told reporters on Tuesday. GM has said in the past that about 10,000 jobs would go at Opel and Vauxhall.

GM Europe currently employs about 50,000 people in Europe.

Relly said Monday that GM prepared to put up some of its own cash to help fund the restructuring, but hopes to receive money from European governments too. GM has about 2 billion euros of its own money to invest in the restructuring.

GM this month backtracked on plans to sell Opel to a consortium led by supplier Magna International Inc. -- a deal that involved government aid.

Merkel expects thank you from GM

Separately, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin on Tuesday that GM had paid back to Germany the last of its 1.5 billion euro bridge loan that was loaned to keep Opel from collapsing when GM went into bankruptcy for a short time earlier this year.

"I expect a thank you letter from GM at the end of the year," she said.

Reuters contributed to this story

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