FRANCE: General Motors in "advanced" talks to sell Strasbourg transmission site
General Motors says it is in "advanced" discussions with Punch International and ZF Friedrichshafen, which are seeking to acquire the US automaker's transmission plant in Strasbourg.
No price is being disclosed by GM for the French operation, while the fate of around 1,000 workers employed at the site is sure to attract the attention of France's left-leaning government, which has taken a keen interest in the automotive sector since its recent election.
"Yes, we are in discussions with Punch and ZF Friedrichshafen - we are in advanced discussions with both of them," a GM spokesman told just-auto from Germany. "We went through a strategic review to look for a long-term viable solution for the plant.
"The products built there internally so far did not generate the necessary volumes, so we were looking for some alternatives. We are not giving a figure on the price, we are not discussing a timetable.
"The objective is, of course, as part of a sale, that jobs would be preserved as much as possible."
Punch - headed by a Belgian investor - has previously expressed interest in GM's Strasbourg plant - but as yet it is not clear what the reaction of France's vocal unions will be to any sale.
The labour bodies will be eyeing events at GM in France anxiously, given the current uncertainty surrounding the country's automotive market and in particular, its difficulties with over-capacity in a shrinking European market.
PSA Peugeot Citroen appears determined to press ahead with plans to slash up to 8,000 jobs in France as well as close its Aulnay site near Paris, while Renault is currently in the middle of laborious negotiations with its many unions concerning productivity deals that could see domestic manufacture retained.
Renault recently offered to commit to no plant closures in France if its unions agree to a raft of measures although the CGT labour body has already expressed reservations.
The CFDT, CFE-CGC, CGT and FO unions have met in a second round of talks to improve Renault performance in the light of extremely challenging economic conditions in Europe, with management proposing the setting up of two regional production centres in France.