French finmin won't deny or confirm PSA-Opel reports

PARIS Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:40am EST

PARIS Jan 15 (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said on Tuesday he would not confirm or deny reports that carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen could buy alliance partner General Motors' troubled Opel unit in Europe.

"No, I absolutely do not confirm them. I do not deny them either," Moscovici told RTL radio when asked about the reports.

"There will perhaps be strategic shifts but it's up to the company to decide them. The state would be informed as normal."

GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson on Monday reiterated that its Opel unit was not for sale after daily La Tribune reported PSA was looking at buying Opel with backing from GM and the French government.

Citing sources close to the matter, the newspaper said GM could contribute several billion euros to facilitate the transaction and the state could take a stake in Opel as part of any deal.

GM and Peugeot unveiled an alliance almost a year ago aimed at saving at least $2 billion annually within five years as the carmakers struggle with overcapacity and low demand.

Sources told Reuters in October the companies were exploring ways to combine their European operations in a second phase of the cooperation, but talks were then halted amid misgivings about PSA's worsening finances and government-backed bailout.