General Motors' (GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report European CEO, Karl Thomas-Neuman, appeared to give his backing for a merger with France's PSA Peugeot (PEUGF) Friday after German lawmakers said the tie-up could work if domestic jobs were protected.
In a series of Tweets from his verified account, Thomas-Neuman said a deal would make sense "in principle" and that he was striving to shape the future of Opel, GM's European arm, in a "sustainable" way. A German government spokesperson said Friday that talks between the two companies were at an "advanced stage" but that she could offer no comment with respect to any job guarantees for the near 20,000 Opel staff working in Germany.
The endorsement follows statements from Germany's Economy Minister, Brigitte Zypries, who said Thursday in Frankfurt that the government is doing "everything we can" to keep Opel's plants operating in Europe's largest economy.
GM and Peugeot confirmed earlier this week that the two were in talks that would create the region's second-largest automaker after Germany's Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) .
The sale of Germany's money-losing Adam Opel GmbH, which makes the mass market Opel cars in continental Europe and does business as Vauxhall in the U.K., would free GM to invest elsewhere, particularly in North America and China and spend more on research and development into autonomous and electric vehicles.
But the move was immediately attacked by Germany's powerful IG Metall trade union, which represents car industry workers across the country, and complained it had not been consulted in advance on negotiations which could ultimately threaten German workers' jobs.
Peugeot shares were marked 1.78% lower at €18.78 each by mid-day in Paris, after rising to as high as €19 each when the talks were confirmed on Feb. 14. GM shares closed at $37.03 Thursday in New York, down 0.13% on the session.