Peugeot moves forward, on its way to buy General Motor's Opel

Peugeot moves forward, on its way to buy General Motor's Opel

That being said, two sources with knowledge about the deal have told Reuters job and plant cuts were discussed during the negotiations, with Vauxhall being the most vulnerable.

PSA Group is closing in on a deal to acquire General Motors Co's Opel unit to create Europe's second-largest automaker, with an agreement possibly coming early next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

GM's European business has failed to book a profit since 1999.

Both GM and PSA, which owns the Peugeot and Citroen brands, declined to comment.

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The Ellesmere Port contract for Vauxhall Astra's is due to end in 2021, with 80% of the factory's output sold under the continental Opel brand.

GM has been struggling to make money in Europe for years and almost sold a majority stake the unit in 2009.

"The UK market is the largest market in the European Union for Vauxhall/Opel so GM does have a moral obligation not to turn its back on the communities and workers who have helped make this company what it is today", Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said. However, much of the existing Opel lineup would remain dependent for years on technology and parts shared with other GM brands. PSA also expects savings of up to 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) from the tie-up, sources have said.

One stumbling block has been an estimated £1bn hole in Vauxhall's £2.6bn pension scheme but industry sources claim GM could swallow the cost in order to free itself from loss-making European operations.

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United Kingdom business minister, Greg Clark, said that his meeting with Tavares was constructive and reassuring.

"I was assured that the commitments to the plants would be honored", Clark said in a statement.

Last week, chief executive of PSA Group, Carlos Tavares, reassured British unions and the government that production at Vauxhall plants in the United Kingdom will be guaranteed until at least 2021 if a takeover by the Peugeot-maker owner goes ahead.

PSA Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said last week a full acquisition of Opel offered an "opportunity to create a European auto champion" and quickly exceed 5 million annual vehicle sales.

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PSA also plans to revamp Opel's model range.

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