Germany encouraged, United Kingdom anxious over Opel-Vauxhall sale to PSA

21 February, 2017, 00:58 | Author: Essie Rivera

PSA Group has pledged to maintain GM's Opel operations in Germany but the future of United Kingdom plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton remain uncertain, according to reports on the Continent.

GM's 35,000-strong United Kingdom workforce includes 23,000 in its retail network, 300 at a customer contact centre in Luton and 7,000 in its supply chain alongside the 4,500 employed at factories at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and Luton in Bedfordshire.

There are fears the deal, which would turn PSA Group into Europe's second largest auto maker, could lead to job losses.

The Financial Times reported Saturday that, during those talks, Clark offered PSA similar assurances to those given to Nissan previous year in a bid to save Vauxhall jobs.

That sent alarm bells ringing in Britain.

GM and PSA so far have not given binding guarantees to preserve German jobs and factories at Opel, Deputy Economy Minister Matthias Machnig said when asked to comment on media reports, but he added there had been some encouraging signals.

Germany is heading towards a federal election in September and any major job cuts at Opel could weaken the chances of Chancellor Angela Merkel getting re-elected for a fourth term. Answering a question in the United Kingdom parliament on Monday, he added PSA was not in a position to give guarantees as it was still in talks with GM.

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A German Economy Ministry spokesman said Berlin was also in contact with the British government and the two countries would not let themselves be played off against each other.

The Prime Minister is set to meet the chief executive of the PSA Group to discuss Peugeot's proposals to buy General Motors' European operation, including Vauxhall.

Clark later travelled to Paris for separate meetings with French Industry minister Christophe Sirugue and board members of PSA Group.

The FT reported that Greg Clark, the United Kingdom business secretary, has already offered PSA comparable assurances to the ones given to Nissan, in an effort to safeguard jobs.

Last year, Japanese carmaker Nissan (7201.T) asked for a pledge of compensation if its United Kingdom plant was hit by Brexit, but went on to invest in two new models after what a source described as a government promise of extra support to counter any loss of competitiveness.

"We have received a meeting request".

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