French socialists unfazed by pending Opel takeover

Job cuts likely to hit Germany, Spain and Britain, leaving local plants intact

The socialist French government can usually be relied on to make an almighty racket following news of a multibillion merger deal involving one of its largest industrial companies, particularly one that could lead to thousands of job losses.

But following news that PSA, the French maker of Peugeot and Citroën cars, was in advanced talks to buy General Motors’ lossmaking European operations, Opel, the French state was unusually relaxed – smug even.

‘Good news’

“It’s very positive,” said one person close to the government, adding that it would create a larger French champion. “This is very good news,” said Franck Don, an official with the CFTC union at PSA.

Analysts and industry insiders says this attitude is because the job cuts are most likely to fall on Opel’s six plants in Germany, the UK and Spain, leaving PSA’s 65,000 French car workers relatively unscathed.


“I don’t see France being a loser from this. It is more likely they will rationalise the peripheral [British and Spanish] plants,” said Justin Cox, a director at LMC Automotive, adding this was partly because the French owned a sizeable stake in the company.

Meanwhile, the German and UK governments have been scrambling for reassurances on jobs, worried they will be left with thousands of angry workers at a time when anti-globalisation extremist parties are already on the rise in Europe’s former industrial heartlands.