UPDATE 2-GM tells Opel staff it won't 'cut and run'
* GM wouldn't waste money if it planned Opel bankruptcy -CEO
* Opel plays key technological role for GM worldwide -CEO
* Opel lacks economies of scale in critical areas -CEO
FRANKFURT, Nov 15 (Reuters) - General Motors will not sell its loss-making European unit Opel or "simply close up shop and leave" it, the U.S. carmaker's Chief Executive told more than 5,000 staff in Germany.
Former private equity manager Dan Akerson has come under pressure from investors to divest or unwind Opel, which Morgan Stanley forecasts will post another $1 billion in annual operating losses on average through 2021 after $16 billion over the past dozen years.
While other senior executives have defended Opel's role within GM, this is the first time that Akerson has sworn loyalty in front of the workforce.
"Our protracted losses have even prompted some analysts to argue that we should sell Opel or simply close up shop and leave car sales in the region to others - I'm not about to do that," he said in a speech on Thursday.
"As a global auto company, GM needs a strong design, engineering, manufacturing and sales presence in Europe. There's room for Chevrolet in Europe but Opel fulfils that role."
Unlike his number two, Steve Girsky, who called Opel "vital" to the operations of GM, analysts believed Akerson was open to a more radical approach given his minority view to sell Opel to Magna late in 2009. Continued...