GM in talks to sell unit in Strasbourg



Hong Kong: US automaker General Motors confirmed yesterday that it is in exclusive talks with the Belgian company Punch Metals International regarding the sale of a site in Strasbourg, eastern France, that employs 1,000 people. "In a best-case scenario, the sale will be completed by the end of the year," a GM spokesman said.  He added that the sale would not involve any changes in the current staff's contracts or working conditions.

The sale involves a production site and a research centre, and according to GM the Belgian group will arrive with orders from a German client, ZF. Punch plans to manufacture a new eight-speed transmission at the plant, with production expected to begin in 2015
and extend to 2021, the spokesman said.

In the meantime, "GM will continue to ensure production until 2014, and the plant will operate with orders that have already been taken," the automaker said. GM plans to cut its fixed costs in Europe by $300 million (233 million euros) this year and by an additional $500 million from 2013 to 2015. In late October, GM said it had eliminated 2,300 jobs in Europe from a 2012 target of 2,600.

It may be mentioned here that General Motors' financing arm GM Financial has agreed to pay about $4.2 billion for the European and Latin American auto lending operations of Ally Financial, as it looks to extend its in-house financing to boost sales.

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