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Opel deal could affect staff at Hungary

A deal that would separate European car maker Opel from its troubled American parent General Motors is likely to result in layoffs at GM Europe's Eastern Europe regional headquarters at Budaörs on the outskirts of Budapest, but it will probably not affect production at the GM's engine plant in the Hungarian city of Szentgotthárd, a company official told MTI on Tuesday.

The German government said late Saturday it had reached a deal with Canada's Magna and its Russian backers to take over Opel from GM, which filed for bankruptcy protection in the US on Monday.

GM Hungary PR director András Dános told MTI that the separation of the Opel and the Chevrolet brands could result in layoffs at the Budaörs headquarters, depending on the final agreement with Magna. The regional headquarters has been preparing for such a split for months, he added.

The deal is unlikely to affect headcount at GM Powertrain-Magyarország, which is the sole maker of 1.6- and 1.8-liter engines for Opel, Dános said. Orders at the plant fell about a quarter because of the crisis, but it dealt with the possibility of layoffs by introducing a four-day work week.

The plant has 640 of its own employees, but staff numbers reach about 1,000 including contracted laborers.

Sales in Hungary of Opel cars and SUVs plunged 27% to 3,420 in the first quarter from the same period a year earlier, but the company was still market runner-up, behind Suzuki, which also has a big plant in the country, according to data from the Hungarian Association of Vehicle Importers. (MTI-ECONEWS)