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Opel talks with Chinese investors on Antwerp plant: union

German automaker Opel, owned by US car giant General Motors, has agreed to discuss with Chinese interests the future of its Antwerp plant, slated to close this year, a union official said Friday.

“Talks are going to get underway immediately with Chinese investors,” said Rudi Kennes of the FGTB union after a meeting between the plant’s works council and Opel head Nick Reilly.

Kennes did not want to identify the Chinese investors involved but did say that Geely, which recently bought Volvo Cars from Ford Motor for 1.5 billion dollars, was not a party to the talks.

Geely officials visited the Antwerp site earlier this week, indicating an interest in its future, as the Chinese company embarks on an ambitious global expansion drive.

Opel declined to comment on the matter when asked.

A source close to the matter, however, said that discussions on the future of the Antwerp plant between Opel, GM and the new investors were in hand.

Kennes said an accord could be reached by the end of this year, when the plant is due to be closed under an Opel restructuring plan.

The Belgian plant employs around 2,600 people and was founded in 1924.

Opel chief executive Reilly said late last month that the company might look for another investor for the plant, perhaps in the logistics sector.

GM wants to cut its European auto production capacity by 20 percent and eliminate around 8,000 jobs from a total 48,000 so as to focus on Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall.