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PSA chief woos Opel workers with promise to keep jobs, brands
[FRANKFURT] PSA Group Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares sought to ease tensions over the proposed acquisition of General Motors Co's European business by assuring workers that the French automaker will protect jobs and revive the Opel and Vauxhall brands.
The manufacturer of Peugeot and Citroen cars will honour existing labour agreements and turn its relations with employees into a "competitive advantage", Mr Tavares said in his first public comments since news of the deal broke last week.
The CEO met with Opel labour representatives in a "climate of trust and transparency", according to the statement, which was issued jointly with GM's European works council.
PSA executives are conferring with government and labour leaders across Europe this week to gain support for the Paris-based company's planned acquisition of GM's unprofitable business in the region.
Corporate rules in France and Opel's home base of Germany give worker representatives a say in major decisions, especially any affecting jobs.
Creating the conditions for a "rebound" at Opel is one of the "common goals" that employee representatives at the GM unit and PSA management agreed on at a meeting this week, according to the statement.
"Tavares communicated convincingly in the talks that he is interested in a sustainable development for Opel-Vauxhall as an independent company," works council Chairman Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug said.
"We are ready to explore further the chances of a potential coming together."
GM and PSA are discussing a valuation for the Opel unit and its sister brand Vauxhall of roughly US$2 billion as the automakers push to reach an agreement as soon as the end of this week, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
Opel and PSA have already been cooperating in vehicle development, and the Ruesselsheim-based GM division on Monday introduced a compact sport utility vehicle that shares underpinnings with a Citroen model.
Labour leaders have been pushing for the companies to protect jobs in any deal after Opel and PSA both shuttered factories in recent years in an effort to return to profit.
The French state is one of PSA's biggest shareholders following a bailout three years ago.