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Vauxhall parent company announces huge European losses

VAUXHALL’S parent company General Motors has today (Thursday) announced fourth-quarter losses of $600m in Europe.

The company has yet to announce what it will do to turn the losses around, but said it plans to return its European arm, Opel/Vauxhall, to profitability.

With the North American and international arms of the business making profits, General Motors made an overall profit of $7.6bn in 2011.

But GM Europe lost the company $700m over the year and $600m in the fourth quarter.

Dan Ammann, senior vice president of GM, said: “Behind the scenes we are working hard to eliminate complexity and cost throughout the organisation to increase margins in all of our regions, and return Europe and South America to profitability.”

Before the announcement, a Vauxhall spokeswoman warned ‘everything is on the table’, including job losses and plant closures.

And speculation had suggested Ellesmere Port’s plant – where hundreds of Flintshire workers are employed – was under threat.

General Motors announced net income in 2011 of $7.6bn, up from $4.7bn in 2010, and revenue increased by 11% from 2010 to $150.3bn.

Dan Akerson, chairman and CEO of General Motors, said: “In our first full year as a public company, we grew the top and bottom lines, advanced our global market share and made strategic investments in our brands around the world.

“We will build on these results as we bring more new cars, cross-overs and trucks to market, and make GM a far more efficient global team.

“This includes reducing our break-even level in Europe and South America and driving higher revenues around the world.”

Rumours the Ellesmere Port plant – which employs 2,100 people – would be shut spread last week.

The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed GM executives in Detroit as saying: “GM is considering closing assembly plants in Bochum, Germany, where it employs about 3,100 workers, and Ellesmere Port, England, where it has about 2,100 workers.”

The American car maker had pledged not to close any plants in Europe before the end of 2014.

Delyn MP David Hanson told the Chronicle the plant employs more than 300 Flintshire workers and provides contracts for a number of suppliers in the county.

Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami said it would be a ‘big blow’ to the area if anything happened to the plant.

But Vauxhall’s spokeswoman in the UK said the reports were ‘speculation’.

She added: “Our Ellesmere Port plant is one of the most productive and most efficient in Europe. It is running at record line rates of 47 units per hour since July 2011.”