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11. March 2009

GER - Slowdown signs - Opel to close three plants and sack 11,000

AFP reported that troubled German carmaker Opel is threatening to close three of its plants in Europe and sack 11,000 people, one fifth of its workforce as it seeks billions of euros in state aid. According to the weekly Der Spiegel, plan submitted to government officials calls for the closure of factories at Bochum in western Germany, Eisenach in the east and Antwerp in northern Belgium. Der Spiegel said that the aim is to save some USD 1.2 billion in staff costs. It added that an alternative proposal would be to cut only 3,500 jobs but lower wages across the board.

Another weekly Focus said Opel, a subsidiary of ailing US giant General Motors was demanding EUR 4 billion in state aid, not the EUR 3.3 billion reported earlier, though some could be in the form of guarantees or credits. A company spokesman said that talks on a rescue package could last weeks, after directors from Opel and its US parent General Motors met German officials at Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office in Berlin. German officials are concerned that Opel’s strong dependence on GM would lead to state aid effectively being transferred to the United States.

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