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February 10, 2011

BELGIUM: Opel rejects $40m bid for Antwerp site

Opel has turned down a EUR30m (US$40.8m) bid from the Port of Antwerp for the land and buildings of its now defunct car assembly plan

Opel has turned down a EUR30m (US$40.8m) bid from the Port of Antwerp for the land and buildings of its now defunct car assembly plant.

The Antwerp site – that produced its last Astra on 15 December last year – was the subject of a desperate rearguard action from unions aiming to save thousands of jobs but Opel insisted the plant had to close as part of its European restructuring strategy.

Opel is thought to have had two other bids for the site of around EUR90m, but a legal clause dating from 1965 means the automaker must take into account any bid from the Port of Antwerp in selling.

This has now triggered a hearing in Antwerp at which the issue will be discussed, but a spokeswoman for the Port Authority expressed optimism its bid would receive a thorough hearing.

“Hopefully the trial will point out an expert who is going to make an objective formulation,” she told just-auto from Antwerp. “The others are able to bid, but Opel must take us into consideration.”

An Opel spokesman in Belgium confirmed the Port Authority offer had been turned down, although he was unable to say what date the hearing would now be.

“This has not been determined, there is no date yet,” he told just-auto. “Opel did not accept the offer from the Port of Antwerp.”

Opel added there was now only a skeleton staff of 70 remaining at the Antwerp site, comprising administration and surveillance employees.

The plant’s heyday saw more than 2,500 people working at the site.

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