The Business Times

Peugeot boss has 'constructive' Vauxhall talk with union

Published Fri, Feb 24, 2017 · 02:28 PM

[LONDON] French carmaker PSA's boss Carlos Tavares, pushing plans to buy General Motors' European brands Opel and Vauxhall, had a "constructive" talk Friday with the head of Britain's biggest trade union about the project, the union said.

Len McCluskey, head of the Unite union, said the London meeting was "relatively positive" and the two sides had agreed to "engage constructively" in future.

"Mr Tavares gave assurances that current production commitments would be met should the takeover with PSA go ahead," Mr McCluskey said in a statement.

The planned takeover by PSA, which owns the Peugeot and Citroen brands, was unveiled last week but has sparked fears in both Germany and Britain that the prospective new owner could cut non-French jobs.

PSA has been active in trying to win backing for the acquisition, with chief executive Mr Tavares on Wednesday securing the support of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and also holding a phone conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

PSA said after Friday's talks that Mr Tavares had "repeated his commitment to dialogue under existing agreements and the PSA group's ethical approach".

Mr Tavares said he wanted to develop the "iconic" brand as "part of Britain's automobile sector heritage".

Vauxhall employs around 5,000 people in Britain.

Britain's plans to quit the European Union have created uncertainty across the business world, particularly in the car sector which is dependent on imports and exports with the European Union.

Opel operates some 10 factories in Europe spread across six countries, and had 35,600 employees at the end of 2015 - 18,250 of them in Germany.

Founded in 1862, Opel, with its lightning-bolt emblem, has long been a familiar sight on German and European roads.

But in recent years the firm has booked repeated losses, costing Detroit-based GM around $15 billion (S$21.182 billion) since 2000.

A sharp fall in the pound since Britain's vote to quit the EU last June sank Opel's hopes of getting back into the black in 2016, and it ended up reporting a loss of US$257 million.

Britain, where it sells vehicles under the Vauxhall brand, is Opel's largest European market.


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