Vauxhall bidder won't close plants

One of the final bidders for car manufacturer Vauxhall has pledged to keep the company's two UK plants, which will save an estimated 5,000 jobs.

There were concerns that a new owner could close the Ellesmere Port branch, which manufactures the Astra model, and the Luton site which makes the Vivaro van.

Belgian investment group RHJ International made the promise as it faces off with Canadian business Magna International for the European arm of General Motors, which also includes Germany's Opel brand.

The group said it would reduce GM Europe's 58,000-strong workforce by 10,000, but the redundancies will be spread across the company's operations, not concentrated on Vauxhall.

RHJ is hoping the German Government will loan up to £3.2 billion (3.8 billion euros) for their bid, for which they have offered to pay £234 million (275 million euro) and the British Government could also contribute.

Leonhard Fischer, Chief Executive of RHJ, said: "We are very strong supporters of both these plants and of the Vauxhall brand. We want to keep a strong industrial and brand footprint in the UK."

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