The
future of the Belgian Antwerp plant of car maker Adam Opel AG, General Motors
troubled German arm, is in doubt, according to people familiar with the situation
at Opel’s headquarters in Rüsselsheim, the daily Handelsblatt said.

“The fate of the Antwerp plant is hanging on a thread,” the sources
told the German newspaper.

At present, some 6,000 employees produce around 300,000 Astra models per year
at the plant in the port city in northern Belgium. Production of these cars
could be shifted to the group’s German or British sites after a plant closure,
Handelsblatt said.


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At an extraordinary supervisory board meeting on Tuesday, Opel chairman Carl-Peter
Forster will present the ‘Olympia‘ restructuring programme, which is to return
the troubled car maker to profit, Handelsblatt said. Last year, the group posted
a loss of just under DM900 million. For this year, a further loss of DM500 million
is expected.

An Opel spokesman told the newspaper that the company’s surplus capacity at
German and other European plants was 350,000 to 400,000 cars a year.

Following the supervisory board meeting, Forster will present a whole bundle
of measures to reduce the car maker’s surplus capacity, the company spokesman
told Handelsblatt. He added that job cuts would be unavoidable. But since Opel
intended to reduce the number of its production shifts, plant closures were
unlikely.

A spokesman for General Motors’ European headquarters in Zurich told the
newspaper that it was “far too early” to speculate on closure of the
Antwerp plant.

He declined to comment to Handelsblatt on how GM intends to address the question
of surplus capacity. GM would not let itself be put under pressure on this important
issue, he said.















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