UK 'reassured' by GM's plans for Vauxhall cars

French carmaker PSA acquires General Motors' European subsidiary, which includes the Opel and Vauxhall brands, for 1.3 billion euros (AFP Photo/PHILIPPE HUGUEN)

London (AFP) - Britain's economy minister Greg Clark said Thursday he was "reassured" by General Motors' plans for its European interests, including Britain's Vauxhall, amid talk of a takeover by France's PSA Group.

"There is some way to go in discussions between GM and PSA but I was reassured by GM's intention, communicated to me, to build on the success of these operations rather than rationalise them," the minister said in a statement.

GM had recently made "significant investments" at its Ellesmere Port and Luton plants, he said.

Clark spoke following a meeting with US auto giant GM's president Dan Ammann in London, two days after it emerged that PSA, which owns the Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands, was in talks to take over GM's European brands Opel and Vauxhall.

"I had constructive talks with GM this morning where I emphasised the importance and successful presence of Vauxhall in the UK," Clark added, saying he would stay in close contact with both GM and PSA in the coming weeks.

The economy minister will travel to Paris for separate meetings on Friday with French Industry minister Christophe Sirugue and board members of PSA Group, a spokeswoman for Clark told AFP.

The potential purchase of Vauxhall has spooked trade unions as the carmaker employs about 35,000 people in Britain.

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, Britain's largest trade union, said on Wednesday following a meeting with Clark that his organisation would "not accept any job losses or plant closures".

GM's British plants "must be offered the same assurances as those given by the government to Nissan", McCluskey said, as Britain's automobile sector is expected to suffer from Brexit, which would entail leaving the EU's single market.

Japanese carmaker Nissan said in October that it would continue to invest in its Sunderland plant after securing guarantees about Brexit from the British government.