PSA Opel deal cleared by European Commission

06 July 2017

06 July 2017

The sale of Opel to PSA Group has moved a step closer, following the news that the company has secured approval from the European Commission for the move.

The sale of Opel by General Motors has been given unconditional EU antitrust approval, meaning PSA will now become Europe’s second-largest automaker, after the Volkswagen Group. The Commission said the deal did not pose any competition concerns in the automotive market.

The deal, which was agreed in March 2017, is valued at €2.2 billion and includes the acquisition of GM’s financial operations in Europe. That deal is still under review by EU antitrust officials.

A statement released by PSA Group comments: ′Today, EU antitrust authorities approved the proposed acquisition of GM’s Opel/Vauxhall automotive business by PSA Group.

′This proposed acquisition, announced on March 6th of this year, will position PSA Group as the second-largest automotive company in Europe and will serve as the basis of Group’s profitable growth worldwide. The proposed transaction also includes the acquisition of GM Financial’s European operations by BNP Paribas and PSA Group. This proposed acquisition of GM’s European financial operations is also subject to EU antitrust authority’s review and the decision is expected in the second half of this year.’

Patrice Lucas, Manager of programs and Group strategy, added: ′Today, we have taken a substantial step. The teams are now focused on the achievement of all other conditions necessary for the closing, planned for later this year.’

The sale could be completed as early as 31 July 2017, which would then give PSA more time to plan ways of making the German carmaker profitable again. In Q1 2017, GM’s European arm suffered a loss of $201 million (€176 million), compared to a loss of just $6 million (€5.2 million) in Q1 2016. The unit has announced a restructuring in preparation for its takeover by PSA Group and has also confirmed that its next-generation Corsa will be underpinned by PSA technology.

This has seen Karl-Thomas Neumann resign as CEO of Opel, with Michael Lohscheller, previously the company’s chief financial officer, stepping in to replace him. Lohscheller oversaw a period of financial stability at the company, when loses narrowed, and held a similar position at Volkswagen of America.

Speaking of this appointment in June 2017, Carlos Tavares, chairman of the managing board of PSA Group, commented: ′We fully support the decision to appoint Mr. Lohscheller who will be surrounded by Opel’s best talents to bring Opel / Vauxhall to new horizons for the benefit of its employees, customers and partners. My personal interactions with Michael have been extremely positive, where he has shown a great deal of insight of Opel and Vauxhall, as well as a solid understanding of the international marketplace. I am enthusiastic about the idea of contributing to the rebirth of Opel as a sustainable German-based company within PSA Group.’

Meanwhile, the French company has been outlining its plans for its Autonomous Vehicle for All (AVA) program, with the aim of offering customers a vehicle equipped with save, reliable, intuitive and easily accessible autonomous functions.

Early driving assistance functions are currently available on some Peugeot, Citroën and DS models. Automated driving functions will now be rolled out, starting in 2018 and from 2020 onwards, new and progressively autonomous functions will offer drivers the ′possibility of delegating driving to the vehicle without supervision’. PSA is also investigating perception technologies that serve to reconstruct the vehicle’s environment, backed up by automatic control algorithms integrating artificial intelligence building blocks. The move for autonomous vehicles could roll out with the Opel brand following the completion of the sale.

Photograph courtesy of Opel

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