Belfast Telegraph

PSA takeover of Vauxhall and Opel approved by European Commission

Europe's competition watchdog has waived through a £1.9 billion deal for French car giant PSA Group to buy Vauxhall owner Opel.

The European Commission "unconditionally approved" the takeover, saying the tie-up raised no competition concerns.

PSA, which owns Peugeot and Citroen, agreed to buy the loss-making European arm of General Motors (GM) in March.

The move aimed to secure GM's exit from the UK and Europe while transforming PSA into Europe's second-largest car maker.

However, the takeover sparked concern in the UK about the impact on thousands of jobs at Vauxhall plants and supply companies.

Around 1,900 staff manufacture the Vauxhall Astra at Ellesmere Port and a further 1,500 people produce the Vauxhall Vivaro van in Luton.

In a statement, the watchdog said: "The European Commission has unconditionally approved the acquisition of Opel by Peugeot, under the EU merger regulation.

"The commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns in the relevant markets."

The competition referee said the combined market share of the two companies would be "relatively small" and the business would face "strong competition" from rival manufacturers such as Renault, Volkswagen, Daimler, Ford and Fiat.

It added that there was no issues surrounding the deal's impact on the wholesale and retail distribution markets.

Vauxhall is a major employer in the UK, with around 35,000 staff, including 23,000 in its retail network and 7,000 in its supply chain.

Patrice Lucas, PSA strategy director, said the decision was "an important step" and the firms were now focused on fulfilling the remaining conditions so the deal could close before the end of the year.

While the decision approves the takeover of the automotive business, the EU watchdog is still reviewing the planned buyout of GM Financial's European operations by BNP Paribas and PSA.

A decision is expected to be made in the second half of the year, the companies said.