Equity stake statement raises concerns in UK car industry
19 February 2009

General Motors has rushed to deny rumours that it intends to sell Vauxhall, which employs around 5000 people in the UK, at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and in Luton.

The company released a statement yesterday that caused concern in the UK car industry. "Management is willing to consider strategic third-party partnerships, alliances and equity stakes, in case such an approach is seen as beneficial for GM Europe and Opel/Vauxhall's viable and sustainable future."

UK car unions were alarmed that this implied GM might remove support from Vauxhall in the same way that it has done from Saab. The company has already made clear that it does not intend to support Saab from its own funds.

"This is all about Opel," said Denis Chick, communications director for GM UK. "It's not Vauxhall. They always refer to us as Opel/Vauxhall, but this is about a stake in Opel being hived off to the German government to get more money into the business."

Yesterday Swedish industry minister Maud Olofsson said she was "deeply disappointed" by General Motors attitude to Saab. "They have in practice removed their hands," she said. "They are handing over responsibility to Swedish taxpayers."

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