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GM will announce 'important changes' on Friday
General Motors Corp. is expected to announce "important changes" to its automotive operations Friday when the automaker releases third-quarter financial results, according to an internal e-mail obtained by The Detroit News.

According to the e-mail sent to company executives Monday, CEO Rick Wagoner and President and Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson will announce changes to employees at 11 a.m. Friday that address challenges "brought on by the volatile global economic situation."

"Clearly given the challenges the industry is facing, we're probably going to have to make additional adjustments," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said today. "It's a very challenging time right now."

It is not spelled out in the e-mail what specific changes might be announced. But late last month, Wagoner and Henderson wrote in another letter to executives that the automaker will have to cut more white-collar jobs later this year and early next year, including involuntary layoffs, suspend the company match in employee 401(k) retirement accounts and make other benefit cuts.

GM's sales in the United States are down 20.3 percent this year and the automaker has lost approximately $70 billion since 2004.

GM and other automakers are coping with the lowest U.S. sales market in 17 years.

On Monday, GM reported its October sales slumped 45.1 percent to 168,719 vehicles, the steepest slide among Detroit's Big Three automakers.

The worsening auto market has led GM to enter negotiations to acquire rival Chrysler LLC from majority owner Cerberus Capital Management LP. One deal on the table is for GM to sell a majority of its 49 percent interest in GMAC Financial Services in exchange for Chrysler. Cerberus, which owns 51 percent of GMAC, could keep a small stake in a combined GM-Chrysler.

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