PSA to Opel: We’ll Go Easy on You Guys, Honest!

Opel autoworkers and executives worried that a French takeover will see their pretzels and bratwurst replaced by baguettes and brie can rest easy, or so the automaker looking to buy their company claims.

France’s PSA Group, which could submit a bid to buy Opel and sister division Vauxhall this week, would give the German automaker the autonomy it desperately craves, the company’s CEO told labor reps and Germany’s chancellor.

That elongated “Z” won’t become a fleur-de-lis.

Should the sale of General Motors’ European division go through, PSA, builder of Peugeot and Citroën vehicles, would make Opel-Vauxhall profitable again, Carlos Tavares said. GM, which hasn’t been able to turn a profit from the brands, values its European operations at $2 billion.

Nearly everyone involved with the brand freaked out after learning about the looming sale, but fears of layoffs and plant closures are unfounded, Tavares suggests. PSA would honor existing labor contracts and protect jobs, he claims.

“PSA Chief Tavares emphasized that both businesses complement each other well,” said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a statement. “He affirmed to the chancellor that PSA will maintain Opel’s sovereignty within the group and will assume guarantees on sites, investment and employment.”

As we’ve seen in the recent past with Volkswagen, labor unions hold significant sway over the decisions made by European automakers. To ensure peace, PSA has reportedly sent executives to speak to labor reps and autoworkers across Europe. (Opel has facilities in five countries, while Vauxhall has two plants in the UK.)

“Tavares communicated convincingly in the talks that he is interested in a sustainable development for Opel-Vauxhall as an independent company,” Opel works council Chairman Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug said in a joint PSA-Opel release. “We are ready to explore further the chances of a potential coming together.”

Comments