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German ministers will hold talks with the French government in an effort to limit the potential implications on German workers of a proposed deal by General Motors to sell Opel to PSA Peugeot Citroen.

Two thirds of Opel’s 38,000 staff are based in Germany, where the carmaker has three plants and its headquarters.
Peugeot boss Carlos Tavares is a renowned cost-cutter, and is expected to slash expenditure at the loss-making business if the deal is successful.

German economics minister Brigitte Zypries, transport minister Alexander Dobrindt and a representative from Angela Merkel’s office, will hold talks with the French government about the takeover, while Mrs Merkel will be closely informed of the results, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Wednesday.

He said:

Opel is an innovative company with a long tradition in Germany and the German government attaches great importance to the successful future of the company and its factories.

Of course this is a company decision and I can’t evaluate it. But at the same time, with the constellation we have here and with the significance it has for jobs at several German facilities, it’s clear that we, the German government, will be following this process closely.

The possibility of the deal was not raised in talks earlier this week between Merkel and the new French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, he added.

General Motors and Peugeot have been criticised for failing to include unions or governments in their discussions, until the talks were publicly confirmed on Tuesday by both companies.

German economy minister Zypries, who earlier criticised the groups for excluding unions, said:

Now it is important that these things are discussed calmly and that the workers are fully involved in the process.

It’s important that the company takes responsibility for the facilities in Germany, for the development centre and for securing jobs.

GM chief executive Mary Barra arrived in Germany for talks earlier today as the company attempts to assuage some of the criticism, while PSA chief executive is pushing to meet Mrs Merkel and unions as early as this week.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

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