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Nissan to decide future of Sunderland plant in January

Nissan has said it will not wait for a European Commission decision on whether to sanction a £40 million UK government aid package for its Sunderland plant before deciding where the new Mirca will be built.

The Japanese carmaker's executive board is due to decide in January on whether Sunderland or Renault's Flins plant in France will produce the new small car. Renault owns a 36.8% stake in Nissan.

The strength of sterling is the dominant factor in Nissan's deliberations.

A Nissan spokesman said: "We are looking at a number of possibilities to mitigate against the strength of the pound such as sourcing more of Micra's parts from Europe. "But Sunderland is more likely to be the home of the new Micra the stronger the euro gets. The euro has rallied recently, but this could easily be short-lived. "I wouldn't put money on the executive board deciding either way."

Lastest research by the European Commission shows there would be heavy job losses at Sunderland if Mirca production went to France, but that it would cost £79.2 million more to assemble the car in the UK than at Flins.

The UK government is offering a £40 million regional assistance package for the Sunderland plant. But to gain EC acceptance it must first prove there is a risk Sunderland could lose the new Micra.

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