UPDATE 1-Magna says it is opening new seat-making facility in China

Wed Mar 9, 2016 6:59pm EST
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(Adds quotes and details from CEO interview)

By Allison Lampert and Euan Rocha

MONTREAL/TORONTO, March 9 (Reuters) - Canadian auto parts maker Magna International is opening a new seat-making facility in China to supply Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co's Volvo car group.

The 5,200-square-metre facility in Taizhou, China, is to be completed by mid-2016 and will produce complete seating systems for a small crossover utility vehicle, said Magna, which held an investor day in Toronto on Wednesday.

Ontario-based Magna, which earns about half its revenue outside North America, has a customer list that includes General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co .

Despite strong growth opportunities outside Canada, Magna Chief Executive Don Walker said he still sees great scope for the company to expand around its Ontario home base.

That is especially true if the provincial and federal governments make an effort to keep auto assembly plants in the province, while also providing incentives to attract new ones, he said.

"In my opinion, the governments should be focused on keeping the assembly plants here," said Walker, in an interview after the investor day in Toronto. "A lot of jobs are tied to a geographic region around the assembly plants, so if the assembly plants are kept here, then hopefully the employment in the auto sector will stay."

Walker said Magna has roughly 140,000 employees including about 20,000 in Ontario. It cut back like everybody else during the 2008-09 downturn, but has since restored employment to pre-crisis levels, he said.   Continued...