A top German official has said that initial discussions between General Motors, PSA Group, and the German government have shown encouraging signs that jobs at Opel factories in Germany will be preserved, but no guarantees have been made just yet. The news comes as General Motors negotiates a sale of its Opel unit to PSA.
On Monday, German Deputy Economy Minister Matthias Machnig said that GM and PSA had so far not provided any binding guarantees on German jobs, but that encouraging signs are present.
“This is why speculation is premature at this point,” Machnig told German television station ARD. He was also hopeful that combining with France’s PSA, which manufactures the Peugeot and Citroen brands, will lead to a better future for Opel.
Of the 38,000 people employed by GM Europe, roughly half are employed in Germany.
For years, Europe’s car industry has been plagued with overcapacity, causing analysts to expect that a potential sale of GM’s loss-making Opel-Vauxhall business to France’s PSA will lead to cuts in capacity and, by association, jobs.
German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that PSA was planning to continue operating all four of Opel’s plants in Germany.
The sale of Opel to PSA Group also carries a significant amount of political weight, since Germany’s federal election is coming up in September. Any major job cuts at Opel could weaken the chances of Chancellor Angela Merkel being re-elected for a fourth term in office.
During a regularly-scheduled news conference on Monday, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that Merkel is constantly being updated about the talks between the government and the management of GM and PSA. In addition, Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries is set to discuss Opel’s planned sale with her French counterpart, Michel Sapin, during her visit to Paris on Thursday, according to a German spokesperson.
While Germans can (at least initially) rest assured that Opel facilities are safe in PSA’s quest to acquire Opel, the same can’t be said of their sister facilities in the U.K., as the two plants in Britain are said to be the primary candidates for being shut down.