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RHJ bid to see 10,000 fewer jobs at Opel

INVESTOR RHJ International SA would cut a maximum of 10,000 jobs at General Motors Corp's Opel unit if successful in its bid for the European auto maker, the company's chief executive was quoted as saying yesterday.

Brussels-based RHJ is competing for a majority stake in Germany-based Opel with a consortium of Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc and Russian lender Sberbank.

"We will have to cut just under 10,000 jobs across Europe -- no more," RHJ Chief Executive Leonhard Fischer was quoted as saying in an interview with the Bild daily.

Fischer added that "we will maintain all four German Opel plants" and said he aimed for cost savings of 800 million euros (US$1.13 billion) per year, Bild reported.

Adam Opel GmbH's future appeared clear at the end of May when, with the German government's support, a preliminary agreement was signed for the Magna-led consortium to move ahead with a rescue of the unit.

The situation has since become murkier, with RHJ saying this week that its own negotiations with GM are "at an advanced stage".

Employee representatives, angered by the uncertainty, have voiced worries that RHJ's aim may be simply to sell Opel back to parent GM.

Fischer rejected that suspicion as "nonsense," Bild reported.

"We want to build up an independent European brand with Opel," he was quoted as saying.

Opel employs some 25,000 people in Germany.


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