French automaker PSA has pledged to keep Opel plants in Germany running if a planned merger goes forward, and to refrain from layoffs until at least 2019, a newspaper report said Sunday.
PSA, the parent company of France’s Peugeot, Citroen and DS, has confirmed it is interested in taking over Opel, the German arm of US giant General Motors.
But the plans have sparked fears in Germany that Peugeot will cut jobs that overlap with existing positions in France.
German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that Olivier Bourges, who sits on PSA’s executive committee, had assured high-level German officials at a meeting at Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office on Thursday that existing contracts would be respected.
They stipulate that redundancies in Germany’s Opel workforce would be ruled out until the end of 2018 and that investment pledges for four German factories would be kept until at least 2020.
The Bild am Sonntag report did not cite its sources.
“Peugeot wants to make sure it doesn’t seem like a hostile takeover,” an unidentified workers’ representative told the newspaper.
Bild said Opel executives expected PSA to set out the broad terms for a merger in the coming week, with the aim of signing the deal at the latest at the Geneva International Motor Show, which starts March 9.
Founded in 1862 as a sewing machine maker, Opel, with its lightning-bolt emblem, has long been a familiar sight on German and European roads.
But in recent years, the company has booked repeated losses, costing Detroit-based GM around 14 billion euros since 2000.
Opel sells more cars in Britain, under its Vauxhall brand, than in any other European country.
A sharp fall in the pound since Britain’s vote to quit the EU last June sank Opel’s hopes of returning to profitability in 2016, and it ended up reporting a loss of $257 million.
At the end of 2015, it had 35,600 employees, including about 18,250 in Germany.
Opel has some 10 factories in Europe spread across six countries. In Britain, it sells its vehicles under the Vauxhall brand.