A special group within GM Europe will consider the future of the Opel plant in Antwerp, Belgium, and detail its restructuring plan after talks are concluded.
“We will naturally examine once again all options for Antwerp and see if there is still a possibility [to keep it open],” General Motors Europe president Carl-Peter Forster told Reuters.
“The fact that all investors (who bid for Opel including RHJ and Magna) in the end said that Antwerp could not be kept in the long term gives us cause for concern,” Forster said.
The successful Opel bid partnership of Magna International and Sberbank has said it would cut about 10,900 jobs at Opel/Vauxhall and close Antwerp. The long-term future of four German plants, plus one in Spain and two Vauxhall facilities here in the UK, is not yet clear.
Negotiations over Magna’s restructuring plan for Opel would continue on Friday, two sources told the news agency.
GM Europe said it would form a working group to deal specifically with Antwerp. Most of the Europe-wide job cuts are expected to hit the German plants in Bochum and Russelsheim.
Forster, tipped to head a ‘new Opel’, disputed a recent Der Spiegel magazine story that said Antwerp was more profitable than Bochum.
If this was true, it could pose a problem for Magna when it seeks regulatory approval from EU competition authorities, because it could be difficult to justify shutting down a more efficient plant while keeping a less efficient one going, Reuters noted.
“We came to a different calculation and naturally we will share this with the labour representatives,” Forster said.
Bochum labour leader Rainer Einenkel said last Friday the cost to manufacture a vehicle at his site was EUR200 (US$293) lower per unit than in Antwerp.
An initial round of negotiations over Magna’s planned restructuring began on Monday between delegates from Opel’s workforce and the management of GM and Magna.
“All parties have agreed that this [restructuring] plan will be discussed internally. Further information will first follow after the conclusion of the talks,” GM Europe said.
Forster wants the talks over as soon as possible since a written pledge by unions to contribute significantly more than EUR1bn in labour cost savings was a prerequisite for GM and Magna to sign a deal.
GM CEO Fritz Henderson has said he hoped the deal could be signed as early as the beginning of October.
Magna would acquire day to day control over Opel, although it would only spending about EUR250m for a 27.5% stake, the report noted.