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GM Says Opel Running Out of Cash; Three Factories Risk Closure

Bloomberg – General Motors Corp. said its European Opel unit risks running out of cash next quarter, threatening three factories with closure and imperiling as many as 300,000 jobs across the region.

Opel, based in Ruesselsheim, near Frankfurt, is struggling with 30 percent overcapacity as sales slide, GM’s European chief, Carl-Peter Forster, said today in a press briefing at the Geneva International Motor Show. He didn’t specify which sites might close. The U.S. company has major plants in Germany, Spain, Poland, Belgium and the U.K.

GM expects European governments to reach decisions in “days or weeks” on aid the carmaker is seeking to help save operations in the region, Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson said. Any interest in the Saab brand depends on a bailout from the Swedish government, according to the executive, who said GM is determined to eliminate failing units in order to channel resources toward more successful models.

“GM will be global, we think,” Henderson said in an interview earlier. “But we have to be realistic, and the environment today requires us to take a lot of tough measures. We need to focus our brand portfolio. We need to get down to fewer brands that can focus very clearly on the market.”

Hummer, Saturn and Saab may all be surplus to requirements and will play “a diminished role,” Henderson said, while Pontiac will be reduced to a niche brand in the U.S. GM, already relying on $13.4 billion in government loans to survive, said Feb. 17 it needs as much as $16.6 billion in additional funds to avoid bankruptcy, including $2 billion by the end of this month.

“We’re quite confident that we can execute a product program and build a brand to be successful going forward,” Henderson said. “After all, it’s about revenue.”

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