Handelsblatt Exclusive

Fighting for German Jobs at Opel

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    A proposed deal between France’s PSA  and General Motor’s European subsidiary, Opel, could endanger jobs in Germany if cost-cutting measures are implemented. The German government is on the defensive.

  • Facts


    • The announcement about negotiations between Opel owner, GM, and the PSA group came as a surprise this week. German Economics Minister Brigitte Zypries said it was unacceptable that local government had not been informed.
    • A takeover of Opel would turn PSA into Europe’s second-largest automaker, presenting a threat to Germany’s big automakers.
    • Insiders say that General Motors, which has faced more than $10 billion in losses at Opel since 1999, has already ordered lawyers to draw up details of an agreement.
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Opel-Betriebsversammlung in RŸsselsheim
Saving jobs: Staff at the Opel works at the car maker's base in Rüsselsheim, Germany. Source: DPA

The German government has vowed to protect jobs at Opel in the wake of news that General Motors, Opel’s parent company, is in talks to sell its European subsidiary to French automaker Peugeot.

“The federal and state governments will work closely together for the preservation of plants, jobs, research centers and company agreements,” Matthias Machnig, the deputy economics minister who will coordinate government talks with the car makers, unions and states, told Handelsblatt in an interview. Opel employs about 18,000 people in Germany.

Mr. Machnig called on General Motors and the PSA Group, Peugeot’s parent company, to include trade unions and works councils in the negotiations. Opel’s employee representatives, caught off guard by PSA’s takeover plans, issued a statement that was highly critical of the secretive talks. “Transparency must lead to trust again,” Mr. Machnig said.

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