Bidder makes pledge to workers

Bidder makes pledge to workers

Vauxhall's UK plants are to remain open, according to a pledge by the company's last-minute suitor.

The group's plants in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, and in Luton would be retained by Brussels-based industrial holding group RHJ International under plans to buy a controlling stake in GM Europe's European arm Opel, which includes Vauxhall UK.

After weeks of discussions, the group - which is related to American private equity firm Ripplewood - confirmed it was a competing bidder for the business.

RHJ International is now one of three potential buyers alongside preferred bidder Magna International, the Canadian car parts group, and another late entrant - Beijing Automotive Industry Holding.

With the Astra model made at its Ellesmere Port site and Vivaro commercial van made at its Luton plant, Vauxhall employs 5,000 people in the UK.

When Vauxhall's US parent General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this summer - forcing it to put the European arm up for sale - deep uncertainty fell over the Luton and Ellesmere Port sites.

However, prior to agreeing state aid with any bidder - governments in the UK and Germany are ensuring there are commitments over workers and manufacturing sites.

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