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    Opel plant in Antwerp could be saved for $290 million

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    The Opel plant in Belgium's city of Antwerp that the company's new owner intends to close could be saved should Belgian authorities allocate 200 million euros ($290 million), Belgian media reported.

    BRUSSELS, September 13 (RIA Novosti) - The Opel plant in Belgium's city of Antwerp that the company's new owner intends to close could be saved should Belgian authorities allocate 200 million euros ($290 million), Belgian media reported.

    The media quoted Opel top labor representative Klaus Franz as saying Opel's plants in Europe, planned for closure, can be kept running if 1.6 billion euros ($2.3 billion), including 200 million euros in state aid for the Belgian plant, is allocated by the countries where the plants are situated.

    General Motors' board of directors announced on Thursday that it would sell 55% in its Opel division to a consortium of Austrian-Canadian Magna and Russia's state savings bank Sberbank. The move came after months of negotiations since a tentative agreement in May.

    The deal is worth 5 billion euros ($7.2 billion), with 4.5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) coming from German government in loan guarantees and 500 million euros ($730 million) from Magna-Sberbank. Employees will hold 10% in the German automaker, and GM is left with a 35% stake.

    Sberbank is acting as a proxy for Russian automaker Gaz, which is expected to eventually take over Sberbank's shares.

    GM said a final agreement could be signed within a few weeks.

    A total of 2,600 people are currently employed at the Antwerp plant, and they could all lose jobs. Besides, several thousand employees at contracting agencies working with the Belgian plant would also be affected.

    The Belgian authorities are striving to stop the plant closure. Kris Peeters, the head of the Belgian region of Flanders where the Antwerpen plant is located, said Sunday the regional authorities are ready to allocate up to 500 million euros ($730 million) to save the enterprise.

     

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