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'Less than 10,000' jobs to go if Fiat buys Opel

Latest update : 2009-05-22

Italian auto group Fiat has announced that its planned takeover of German carmaker Opel would involve "less than 10,000" job cuts in Europe if it were to go ahead, contrary to the figure of 18,000 put forward by a German daily.

AFP - Fiat will cut fewer than 10,000 jobs in Europe if the Italian auto giant wins its bid to take over General Motors subsidiary Opel in Germany, the group said in a statement Friday.

"The Fiat plan is for total employee reductions -- which would take place gradually and be distributed throughout Europe -- of less than 10,000," it said.

"The impact for the workforce in Germany, therefore, would be significantly lower than speculated," it added.

"For some time, comments have been circulating that, in the event Fiat were to acquire Opel, there would be approximately 18,000 redundancies in Germany," the statement said.

"These comments are entirely unfounded."

Fears of massive, swift job cuts have persisted since early this month German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, purportedly citing a leaked internal document, said Fiat would cut 18,000 jobs and close or scale down 10 factories in Europe if the Opel deal goes through.

Fiat issued a categorical denial of the reprot the next day.

Opel employs 25,000 people directly in Germany, and its future is a major concern for the Berlin government.

Fiat on Wednesday made a formal offer to take over Opel as well as Britain's Vauxhall, two European subsidiaries of General Motors which is on the verge of bankruptcy and being restructured with US government help.

Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne believes the Italian auto giant stands a better than even chance of pulling off its takeover bid for Opel, reports said on Thursday.

The Canadian firm Magna, with support from Russian manufacturer GAZ, and Brussels-based RHJ International, whose main shareholder is the founder of the US investment fund Ripplewood, also submitted offers.

The final decision on Opel, as well as other units of GM Europe including Britain's Vauxhall and Sweden's Saab, lies with General Motors itself and with the US government, but Berlin will sweeten any deal with loan guarantees.

Fiat, which has already sealed a tie-up with Chrysler, wants to combine GM's European, Latin American and South African operations with Chrysler's to create the world's second largest carmaker behind Japan's Toyota.

Fiat earlier negotiated a 20 percent stake in bankrupt Chrysler in exchange for its production technology and can increase that to a controlling 51 percent share in the US auto maker as long as Chrysler repays state aid.

Date created : 2009-05-22

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