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GM not planning Opel plant closures

General Motors Corp has no concrete plans to shut its German unit Opel's factories, Juergen Ruettgers, the state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, said after meeting GM's head Rick Wagoner in Detroit.

“It took a load off my mind when I heard that there is no decision here at General Motors' headquarters to shut down any plants in Germany,” said Ruettgers, the conservative leader of Germany's most populous state, according to a spokesman.

Struggling US automaker GM has said its European business - which also includes Saab in Sweden and Vauxhall in Britain - would likely post a profit in 2011 at the earliest after radical cost cuts.

“But due to the difficult economic situation there must be a plan for the future, not just in Europe but also in America,” Ruettgers said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said GM's German brand Opel must present a clear plan before Berlin could consider state aid.

Ruettgers added that a condition of support from the government would also be that the company keep its four German Opel plants and that the German carmaker retains its patents and brand rights.

Germany Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said he was working on a fresh rescue plan for Opel that need not include the government temporarily taking an equity holding in Opel.

He told German television station ZDF it was important to consider “other models than those that are currently being talked about” and solutions that would not require an immediate stake purchase by the state. (Reuters)