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The Associated Press March 15, 2011, 6:47AM ET

BMW moves Japan employees away from disaster

German automaker BMW AG is moving to get its 800 employees in Japan away from the disaster-struck areas there and assessing the impact of the earthquake on its parts supplies.

"We have international supplier networks, not just BMW but other automakers too," CEO Norbert Reithofer said at the company's annual news conference in Munich.

He said he could not yet endorse the early estimates that the disaster won't slow the world economy much. "I can't join that yet," he said. "We need to let at least a week pass."

Herbert Diess, the company's head of purchasing, said there were currently no effects on production. "We are analyzing the situation and will be able to say in 7 to 10 days what the effects might be."

Japanese employees are being moved to hotels in the south away from the disaster struck north and the crippled nuclear reactors that are raising fears of radiation releases. German employees are being flown home with their families.

BMW officials said they have some 40 German expatriates in Japan, where it has a marketing operation but no factories.

The companies shares were off 4.7 percent, with Germany's DAX index of 30 large companies off 4.83 percent.

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