Opel takers would close Belgian factory

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Both candidates bidding to buy Opel from US giant General Motors would shut the company's factory in the Belgian city of Antwerp, a senior local politician said in an interview published Friday.

Brussels - Both candidates bidding to buy Opel from US giant General Motors would shut the company's factory in the Belgian city of Antwerp, a senior local politician said in an interview published Friday.

Both Canadian auto parts maker Magna and Belgium-based RHJ International had stipulated they would progressively shut down the factory, Kris Peeters, the minister-president of the northern Flanders region, told L'Echo newspaper.

His comments to the economic daily followed reports in the Austrian press that Magna planned to close the Antwerp plant of Opel, the European car-making arm of GM, in 2010.

Until a week ago Peeters had said he backed Magna's bid as he thought the group planned to keep the Antwerp factory, which employs more than 2,000 people as well as supporting numerous subsidiaries.

Now he said he would be contacting both companies to see what exactly they meant by "phasing out" and to see if there might be another alternative. He would also be contacting the European Commission, he said.

His fear was that the case was being influenced by political as well as economic considerations, with Germany having offerd billions of euros in loan guarantees in a bid to save tens of thousands of jobs.

"It's not looking good at all, but we have tried everything," he told the paper.

AFP / Expatica

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