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BMW assures staff

BERLIN, Jan 25 – German luxury car maker BMW will not lay off any workers this year despite plunging auto sales and the worst recession in Germany for six decades, a senior manager was quoted as saying on Sunday.

"In any case, there will be no enforced redundancies in 2009," board member Harald Krueger said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

"If the crisis lasts longer than anticipated, we will not fill vacancies that become free," he added.

BMW announced on January 20 that 26,000 of its workers across Germany would have their hours cut as orders shrink and production is slashed. However, Krueger said the firm was confident these employees would return to full-time work by April.

Krueger also insisted the company would not be requesting government handouts, nor would it seek to merge with a competitor to stave off the effects of the recession in the auto industry.

"BMW\’s autonomy is not in question," Krueger said.

BMW has been hit hard by the global slump in auto sales. On January 9, the firm announced that the number of cars sold in December had dropped by more than a quarter compared to the year-earlier period.

Krueger said BMW had high hopes for its new models — the Z4, which will be launched in spring and the new 7th series which the company is rolling out in China and the United States.

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