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William Maley

Opel/Vauxhall News: GM and PSA CEOs Head Off To Germany For Discussions As Backlashes Begin

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Yesterday, news broke that General Motors and PSA Group (owner of Peugeot and Citroen) were in discussions on possibly selling Opel and Vauxhall. Already, the possible sale is under intense scrutiny from various European governments and unions. There are concerns about jobs being cut with this deal, and none are too happy that officials from local governments and unions were not included in the talks. There is also the possibility of political backlash coming to Germany and France as both will be holding elections later this year.

"It's unclear whether GM will keep an Opel stake, who pays what and if anything will go through at all, given the political backlash," a source told Reuters.

GM and PSA have declined to say what possible cuts to the workforce, plants, and other items that could be part of the deal. GM Europe employs roughly 38,000 workers - 19,000 are in Germany.

“Almost all experts say that with this deal now being prepared between the large French, almost state-owned conglomerate and Opel, that especially the German Opel plants may be on the losing side,” saud Rainer Einenkel -- former works council chief at Opel’s Bochum plant, which was shut down.

“The government has an interest in a successful future for the company and its sites. The government will, in light of the talks it’s holding with all parties involved, form an opinion,” said Steffen Seibert, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman.

Over in Great Britain, there are concerns of Vauxhall being on the chopping block. Part of this comes from Britain deciding to the European Union. By leaving, the country would lose access to the EU Single Market which guarantees unconstrained trade across the member states. It would mean various countries would be leveraging tariffs on British-made goods, making production in the country less competitive. Also, if the deal was to go through, Vauxhall could be one of the first things to go when it comes time to cut costs.

Unite, the British worker's union said the president of GM gave them assurance last year that there would not be any surprises in terms of GM's plants in Britain. With this deal, the union says those commitments had not been held.

"It cannot be that the future of UK car workers’ jobs now lie in the hands of the French government and their backing for Peugeot," said Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey.

Because of this, General Motors and PSA Group find themselves in damage control mode. GM CEO Mary Barra sent a memo to staff in the U.S. and Germany explaining the deal would be good for GM's future growth, the longevity of Opel's German operations, and shareholder value.

“While there can be no assurance of any agreement, any possible transaction would enable PSA Groupe and Opel Vauxhall to leverage their complementary strengths, enhancing their competitive positions for the future in a rapidly changing European market,” said Barra in the message.

A source tells Bloomberg that Barra and GM President Dan Ammann plan to meet with German government officials sometime in the future about the deal. Next week, PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares will meet will officials. According to a source, Tavares plans on keeping Opel's management structure and keeping the brand as a German one.

Source: Bloomberg, Reuters, 2


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Damage control is nice.  But, as always, there will be factory closures and lost jobs in Europe for one simple reason: the sales are not there.

Sooner or later (my over/under is three years), the European auto market will really shrink because the sales are not there and there has been excess capacity for YEARS.  The only problem is that no auto company (GM, PSA, VW, FCA, Ford etc.) want to be first to shutter a factory, whether it is the UK or France or especially Germany.  Economically speaking, much of Western Europe has not fully healed from the Great Recession and the Euro is a straitjacket.  Somebody has to just say: we are done supporting this economic farce and we are done.  Too bad Europe makes it really hard to close failing businesses since that is what they need, just because their citizens fear losing a lot of jobs.

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Reality hitting home Europe Socialist system is a failure, The gov cannot keep everyone employed and a perfect example of the Union Socialist killing approach is that Mercedes-benz is moving c-class production to the US, South Africa and the asian rim and of course the German Unions are scrambling to try and keep everyone unionized and keep the jobs in Germany. You cannot afford to keep paying everyone on average $67 dollars an hour or $139,360 a year. This makes no sense when you look at the value of a engineer, assembly line worker and janitor. The over paid union protected jobs by the gov will kill companies.

Right to work is a better way to go.

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In general, right to work can be better in most cases.  Especially where such labor is easily found and/or replaceable.  Our UAW and CAW have not truly accepted that concept just yet, and neither have unions in our public sector.  By domestic standards, German unions are among the strongest and most stubborn worldwide.  If Germany is not careful, they may not have much to export other than manufacturing prowess to the USA and elsewhere ---- along with the factories that will leave the Old World too.

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