France's PSA suspends joint ventures in Iran to avoid U.S. sanctions

FILE PHOTO: The Peugeot logo is pictured on the new Peugeot 508 before a news conference of PSA Group to announce the company's 2017 annual results at their headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison, near Paris, France, March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessie/File Photo -/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French carmaker PSA Group PEUP.PA has begun to suspend its joint venture activities in Iran to avoid U.S. sanctions after Washington's withdrawal from the international nuclear deal.

Large French companies active in Iran, including oil major Total TOTF.PA, are struggling to obtain exemptions from the sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.

“The group has begun to suspend its joint venture activities, to comply with U.S. law by Aug. 6,” PSA said in a statement on Monday.

“With the support of the French government, the Groupe PSA is engaging with the U.S. authorities to consider a waiver.”

European signatories are scrambling to save the international deal, which seeks to protect trade with Iran in return for curbing the country’s nuclear program.

PSA and its French rival Renault RENA.PA moved swiftly to sign new production deals to upgrade their pre-sanctions partnerships with Iran Khodro and SAIPA.

Production deals worth 700 million euros ($818 million) have been signed by PSA, while Renault has announced a new plant investment to increase production capacity to 350,000 vehicles a year.

The suspension of its joint ventures does not alter PSA’s current financial guidance, the group said, adding that its Iranian activities accounted for less than 1 percent of revenue.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by David Goodman