PSA chief executive to meet UK's May about Vauxhall takeover

Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:35am EST
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By Laurence Frost and David Milliken

PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) - The chief executive of Peugeot manufacturer PSA Group (PEUP.PA: Quote) will meet British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss his firm's planned acquisition of General Motors' (GM.N: Quote) Opel and Vauxhall operations, a government spokesman said on Saturday.

Both Britain and Germany fear PSA will cut jobs if the takeover goes ahead, and British politicians are particularly concerned that the country's looming departure from the European Union does not damage its resurgent auto industry.

Earlier on Saturday the Financial Times reported that British business minister Greg Clark had offered PSA similar guarantees on EU access and supply chains to those he gave to Japan's Nissan (7201.T: Quote) last year.

But PSA subsequently said it now wanted to hold talks at the highest level of British government, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that she would do all she could to keep jobs in Germany.

"(PSA Group CEO) Carlos Tavares has asked to meet Theresa May," the spokesman told Reuters. "It's the same approach that we've taken with the German authorities."

A spokesman for May later confirmed that a meeting would go ahead, and the business ministry said it was likely to take place next week, with Clark attending as well.

PSA, Europe's second-biggest carmaker and owner of the Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands, also plans to have direct talks with union representatives in Germany and Britain on the deal, the group's spokesman said.

Talks on a sale of GM's European arm to PSA were confirmed by both companies on Tuesday. Germany accounts for half of GM Europe's 38,000 staff, while there are 4,500 in Britain where the company operates under the Vauxhall brand.   Continued...

Carlos Tavares, Chairman of the Managing Board of French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen, attends a news conference on media day at the Mondial de l'Automobile, the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen