GM to shut Belgium factory after investor search fails


GM to shut Belgium factory after investor search fails

Automotive News | October 4, 2010 – 6:16 am EST

FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) — General Motors Co.’s money-losing Opel division will shut its factory in Antwerp, Belgium, by the end of this year after failing to find a buyer.

“None of the potential investors was able to come forward with a sustainable business concept for the plant,” Opel said today. “The process to search an industrial investor interested in continuing operations has come to an end.”

Luc van Grinsven, a union representative at the plant, said a Chinese automaker and an American investor had expressed interest in buying the factory.

About 1,300 people still work at the Antwerp plant, which makes the Opel Astra model, after half the workforce was eliminated earlier this year. Opel said as recently as last month that the plant would close at the end of the year unless an investor made an acceptable bid by Sept. 30.

Opel lost additional market share in Germany last month. The brand’s new registrations fell 19 percent, compared to an 18 percent drop overall, according to figures released today from the country’s Federal Motor Vehicle Office.

Opel’s share of its home market through the first nine months of the year slipped 1.2 percentage points to 7.8 percent, as sales tumbled 37 percent compared to the market’s 28 percent decline.

The closure of the plant marks the first shutdown of a European auto factory since 2006. While 18 assembly factories have been shuttered in the U.S. since 2008, European governments prevented the region’s biggest automakers from firing workers and used subsidies to prop up sales.

The last European plants to close was in 2006, when GM shut its site in Azambuja, Portugal, and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen folded its Ryton plant in Coventry, England.

“During this wind down period, while the active search of an investor for continuing activities has ended, we will remain open to discuss any reasonable proposals that might be presented to us,” Opel said.

Even as it’s closing the Antwerp plant, GM has promised to invest 11 billion euros ($15 billion) in its Opel and Vauxhall divisions to improve the model line-up and win back customers. Opel said last month it will build a new small car at the German plant in Eisenach from 2013.

The carmaker also is ramping up component and engine production at the Kaiserslautern factory and said it will invest 500 million euros into making engines at its site in Hungary.


Seniority Lists
Bargaining Committee

Mike Herron
Tim Stannard
Zone at Large – 1st
Danny Taylor
Zone at Large – 2nd
Mark Wilkerson
Joe McClure
Chad Poynor
Steve Roberts
Derek Lewis
Bill Cundiff
Kirk Zebbs
Don Numinen
Jay Minella
Danny Bragg
Chris Hill
Rashad Thomas
Keith Oswald
Chris Brown

1853 Officers

Tim Stannard
Mike Herron
Vice President
Darrell DeJean
Financial Secretary
Mark Wunderlin
Recording Secretary
Peggy Mullins
Trustee (3)
Jay Lowe
Dave Clements
Dave Spare
Sgt. at Arms
David C Spare
Ashley Holloway
E-Board at Large (2)
David Ryder
Steve Roberts

GM Unit Chair
Mike Herron
Leadec Unit Chair
Larry Poole
Ryder Unit Chair
Patrick Linck
AFV Unit Chair
Katherine McGaw
Retiree Chair
Mike Martinez