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Opel to close Antwerp plant

Opel has revealed that it will be closing its Antwerp manufacturing plant in Belgium as part of its restructuring process.

Nick Reilly, Opel chief executive officer, said: "We fully understand the effect this announcement has on the Antwerp employees and their families and we sympathise with them.

"Many have been dedicated to the plant over generations and have done an excellent job producing great quality cars. The decision to announce this today was not taken lightly; instead, it is the unfortunate result of the current business reality. We must make this announcement now so that we can secure a viable future for the entire Opel and Vauxhall operations."

The global economic crisis has led to a major downturn in the automotive industry.

The Western European car market in 2010 is expected to be 1.5 million vehicles below 2009 levels and almost 4 million below its peak in 2007. It is not expected to return anytime soon - if ever - to these peak levels, resulting in significant overcapacity in general and at Opel in particular.

To ensure long-term sustainability for the company, Opel needs to reduce capacity by approximately 20%.

It is expected that the full restructuring plan, when completed, will affect all Opel/Vauxhall production sites and entities through measures such as capacity reductions, job redundancies and/or labour cost reductions.

Opel/Vauxhall said it reveal more details "in due course".

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