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Ford may delay minivan launches as plant closes -report

BERLIN (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co may delay the next versions of the Galaxy and S-MAX minivans as it plans to shut a factory in Genk, Belgium, where the vehicles are made, German magazine Auto Motor und Sport reported on Wednesday.

Scrambling to cut costs and stem European losses, the U.S. manufacturer said on October 24 that it plans to close the Genk factory employing about 4,300 workers by the end of 2014 and shift production to Valencia.

The shutdown of Genk would delay introduction of the new Mondeo mid-size car, which like the Galaxy and S-MAX, is assembled at the eastern Belgian site. All models are nearing the end of their life cycles.

Ford declined to confirm the report of the planned delay, saying it has not provided details about its upcoming models other than the next-generation Mondeo sedan.

The automaker has also previously said that "pending the outcome of the consultation process, it could result in the transfer of the next-generation Ford Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy to Ford's Valencia Plant in Spain," Ford of Europe spokesman John Gardiner said in an email.

Ford, which posted a $468 million European loss in the third quarter, expects to lose a combined $3 billion in the region in 2012 and 2013.

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; additional reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Mike Nesbit and David Gregorio)

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