General Motors is shutting its European brand Opel's plant in Antwerp, Belgium, this year, eliminating 2,606 jobs as it undertakes restructuring to return it to profits after cancelling plans to sell a majority stake to Magna International and its Russian partner, Sberbank in November.
Detroit-based GM said in a statement, ''As Opel moves quickly on its way towards a viable future, the company announced today the intent to wind down its manufacturing plant in Antwerp, Belgium in the course of 2010.''
''Opel will continue to engage in the official information and consultation process with employee representatives regarding the envisaged restructuring.''
Opel chief executive officer Nick Reilly said at a news conference in Brussels today, ''We are losing money and we have to do something about it.'' Opel opted to close the Belgian site because the models manufactured at this plant are also produced in its other plants in Europe, making the capacity shift easier.
GM's Antwerp plant opened in 1924 from where it started manufacturing Chevrolet models in 1925. In 2008, the plant produced 9 per cent of Opel's 1.48 million vehicles, of which, 88,873 were the Opel Astra.
The plant also manufactures the TwinTop and station-wagon models and employs 2,606 workers or 5 per cent of GM's 48,000 Europe's work force.