May 9, 2012 / 11:44 AM / 7 years ago

GM begins new attempt to sell French gearbox plant

PARIS (Reuters) - General Motors (GM.N) put its gearbox plant in Strasbourg, France, up for sale for a second time in four years, pledging to seek bidders to keep the factory running.

The Detroit-based automaker, which announced an alliance with France’s PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) in February, said on Wednesday it had hired Barclays to manage the sale of the facility in eastern France, where it employs 1,000 workers.

“The company intends to pursue potential buyers that will continue operations with the existing workforce, supply base and customers,” GM said in a statement.

GM last attempted to sell the plant, which makes automatic transmissions for its own brands and for BMW (BMWG.DE), at the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

The U.S. automaker bought the plant back for one euro in 2010, the year following its own brief bankruptcy, after the company charged with liquidating GM assets failed to find a buyer.

Under the terms of the buyback, workers agreed to concessions including a two-year wage freeze and reduced annual leave in return for job guarantees.

“There are commitments in place to continue manufacturing the transmissions for the next several years,” GM spokesman Jim Cain said on Wednesday.

The GM Strasbourg plant last year produced 280,000 six-speed transmissions, mainly for vehicle assembly outside Europe, the company said. GM models supplied by the plant include the Cadillac CTS and Chevrolet Camaro.

The Strasbourg sale decision is “definitely not” linked to the new alliance with Peugeot, Cain said. The French automaker declined to comment on alliance plans.

Engineers from both companies are laying plans for joint development and production of future vehicles and technologies under the agreement announced on February 29, which saw GM acquire a 7 percent stake in Europe’s second-biggest automaker the following month.

Reporting by Laurence Frost and Ben Klayman; Editing by James Regan and Helen Massy-Beresford

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