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March 4, 2019

PSA eyes deal to expand out of Europe – Bloomberg

PSA Group is seeking a deal that will expand its footprint outside of Europe, according to Bloomberg sources.

By Olly Wehring

PSA Group is seeking a deal that will expand its footprint outside of Europe, according to Bloomberg sources.

CEO Carlos Tavares has met with advisers to consider potential collaborations or mergers, the sources said.

The deliberations are very preliminary and potential targets haven’t recently been approached, the sources said.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was attractive to PSA for its exposure to the US and its premium Jeep brand but Tavares also saw General Motors as a good fit and Jaguar Land Rover as a possibility, the Bloomberg sources said, while cautioning that such deals would be difficult to reach.

A PSA spokesman declined to comment to Bloomberg on any specific plans, and declined to make Tavares available ahead of the Geneva car show this week. He referred to the CEO’s comments at an earnings press conference last week, when Tavares, asked about plans for about EUR9bn (US$10.2billion) in net cash, said strategic opportunities were “open for discussion” while cautioning the money would also help in a downturn.

“We think we are in a good position both in terms of running the operations and also in terms of strategic vision” with regard to electrification, autonomous driving and mobility, Tavares said on 26 February.

“We have done our homework, and we think we are on the right path.”

Spokesmen for Fiat Chrysler and JLR owner Tata Motors declined to comment to Bloomberg. A GM spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bloomberg noted Tavares, who in five years has turned around the flagship Peugeot brand and GM castoff Opel/Vauxhall, still relies on Europe for more than 80% of PSA’s unit sales. A US partner would potentially further Tavares’ plan, announced last week, to bring the Peugeot brand back to North America. The company plans to ship vehicles from Europe or China from 2026 and an alliance could pave the way for local production without a prohibitive investment.

A deal would also help PSA build scale, Bloomberg added. The French company sold 3.9m cars last year, enough to qualify as a volume producer but nowhere near the 10m-plus that VW, Toyota and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance churned out, giving them added leverage to squeeze out costs.

Its sources said Fiat Chrysler was focused on steadying the management team and operations since former CEO Sergio Marchionne passed away in July and hasn’t held any recent discussions with PSA regarding a combination. Fiat and Peugeot extended their van cooperation to include vehicles under the French manufacturer’s Opel and Vauxhall brands in February.

GM has little interest in the European market, two of the sources said. Merging with or acquiring PSA would be a complete reversal – and is something GM could have pursued when it sold Opel to the French company two years ago, said one source.

Bloomberg noted analysts had started to speculate on options for PSA. JP Morgan Securities analysts including Jose Asumendi have suggested a European passenger car partnership with Ford or a cooperation deal with JLR as potential solutions. Jefferies International analyst Philippe Houchois also suggested JLR as a possibility.

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