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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's MAN (MANG.DE) plans to scale back production of trucks from January 14 as its customers hold off placing major orders in uncertain economic times, the head of its truck business said.
"We have to adjust our production according to demand," German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung cited Anders Nielsen as saying in an excerpt of an interview to be published on Tuesday.
He said Munich-based MAN has applied for subsidies under the German government's short-time work program, called "Kurzarbeit", for the first half of 2013.
"But it is not ruled out that we extend the 'Kurzarbeit'," he said, adding that depended on how the market developed during the year. He said job cuts were not planned.
The move will affect 3,500 workers at a plant in Munich and 1,800 in the northern German city of Salzgitter, the paper said.
Top rival Daimler Trucks (DAIGn.DE) curbed production at its assembly plant in Woerth in October and November in response to weak demand in Europe but has said it had not applied for Berlin's short-time work program.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted MAN's Nielsen as saying he expects business to be stable at a "lower level" over the next two to three years but added he would work on improving profitability at MAN to catch up with Daimler.
"I envision a long-term return of just over 10 percent," he said.
Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Bernard Orr