BRUSSELS, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - The Opel plant in the Belgian city of Antwerp is likely to be closed by the carmaker's new owners and production could be moved to Russia, the Belgian economic magazine Trends said on Tuesday.
The U.S. car giant General Motors took a long-awaited decision in early September to sell Opel to a consortium of auto parts maker Magna and Russia's largest bank, Sberbank. The decision was approved by the Opel board and the German government.
The Magna-Sberbank consortium will own a 55% stake in Opel on a parity basis, and the German carmaker will control 10% with GM retaining 35%. The new owners are set to leave the Opel plants in Germany intact, but plan to close two European production sites, including one in Belgium.
According to Trends, the Opel plant in Antwerp is likely to be closed by the end of the year and production could be moved to Russia's car giant AvtoVAZ in the Volga city of Togliatti.
Sberbank CEO German Gref said earlier in the day that Magna and Sberbank had not yet picked an industrial partner for Opel in Russia and did not rule out cooperation with AvtoVAZ, which was assured by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday that the government would ensure its continued operation as it struggles with the financial crisis.
The Opel plant in Antwerp employs about 2,600 people who will be laid off if it is closed. The closure will also affect several thousand workers employed by companies working under contracts with the Belgian factory.