Washington – General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra said on Tuesday that the Detroit carmaker is exploring opportunities with the PSA Group (Peugeot/Citroen), but declined to discuss a potential sale of its money-losing European Opel unit.
At the Economic Club of Washington, Barra did not address in detail the talks with Peugeot that became public two weeks ago and refused to say when the auto giant might decide whether to sell Opel, which has lost money for 16 straight years, to Peugeot.
"We've done a lot to improve the business but we're exploring opportunities to see if we can accelerate that even more because scale does matter in this business," she said. "We're continuing the dialogue."
Barra also said that the carmaker backs corporate tax reform, but raised concerns about a Republican "border adjustment" tax proposal.
"If not done very thoughtfully it could be problematic," she said, saying tax reform needs to avoid "unintended consequences."
A deal by next week?
Some reports in Europe have suggested that GM could have a deal with PSA as early as next week, but Barra declined to discuss a timetable.
PSA and GM confirmed on February 14 they were in talks over a PSA-Opel tie-up to create Europe's second-largest carmaker by sales after Volkswagen AG.
Acquiring GM's Opel and Vauxhall brands would give PSA a 16.3 percent share of the European passenger car market, vaulting it ahead of French rival Renault.
PSA and GM have tried before to combine their small cars in the failed centerpiece of a "global strategic alliance" unveiled in 2012, and rapidly scaled back to three shared projects from 40 initially considered.
Last week, German magazine Der Spiegel reported that GM had told Peugeot it would only sell licenses for the manufacture of Opel cars to the French company if it agreed not to sell the vehicles in North America, Russia or China.