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Government seeks PSA Group assurances on Vauxhall after Opel reports

Carlos Tavares, PSA Group

PSA Group has pledged to maintain GM’s Opel operations in Germany but the future of UK plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton remain uncertain, according to reports on the Continent.

German Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag reported that PSA's general counsel Olivier Bourges had told two deputy ministers and an adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel that Opel would continue as a separate entity within PSA group and that no German sites would be closed.

The paper said that the assurances were made on Thursday, but did not identify the sources of the information.

News of a potential deal on the continent comes after Prime Minister Theresa May received an invite to speak to PSA Group chief executive Carlos Tavares.

Quoted in The Guardian newspaper, a Downing Street spokesman said: “We can confirm we have received a meeting request. The meeting will take place, in principle, subject to diary availability.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey is also expected meet Tavares this week in the latest in a series of talks he has held to help avoid any job losses.

GM’s 35,000-strong UK workforce includes 23,000 in its retail network, 300 at a customer contact centre in Luton and 7,000 in its supply chain alongside the 4,500 employed at factories at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and Luton in Bedfordshire.

The FT reported that Greg Clark, the UK business secretary, has already offered PSA comparable assurances to the ones given to Nissan, in an effort to safeguard jobs.

Clark met with PSA executives and the French government in Paris on Thursday.

Support for electric car development and incentives for suppliers to locate to the area were both said to have been part of the discussions.

Following the meetings, Clark told the FT that he had made sure PSA “had no doubts about the efficiency and importance of the plants and the workforce and that they knew the context of our intention to build on the strengths of our automotive sector”.

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