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Carmaker Peugeot will remain French, minister insists

France's industry minister has said the country's ailing carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen will not lose its national identity and will remain a French company. There had been reports about a China-driven capital increase.

French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg on Tuesday tried to take the sting out of a current public debate about the future of the country's renowned, but struggling automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen.

"PSA will remain a French company," the minister told the newspaper Le Parisien in an interview.

But by making such a statement, Montebourg probably raised more questions than he answered, failing to specify what exactly would be done to keep the company in French hands.

Ambiguous statements

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Cooperation between Opel and Peugeot

Media reports last week indicated PSA was eying a possible deal under which not only the French state, but also China's state-owned Dongfeng Motor Company could each contribute 1.5 billion euros ($2.05 billion) to a capital increase scheme and acquire a 20- to 30-percent stake in the carmaker.

If implemented, such a plan would see the Peugeot family lose control of the firm, because the cash injection would dilute its 25.4-percent stake and 38.1 percent in voting rights.

So far, Peugeot had only confirmed it was studying new financial restructuring schemes, but had not mentioned the 3-billion-euro capital increase plan.

Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg was asked whether his statement meant there would be no Chinese investment, but his answer left reports puzzled.

"I didn't say that," he replied. "What I'm saying is that the company will stay in France and will remain French."

hg/kms (Reuters, AFP)

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