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article imagePeugeot board to examine Chinese capital boost plans

By AFP     Jan 17, 2014 in Business

The board of troubled French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen is to review on Sunday different formulas for China's Dongfeng and the French state to become major shareholders.

Several scenarios are on the table on how to carry out the capital hike of around 3.5 billion euros ($4.7 billion), according to two sources familiar with the plans.

Europe's second-largest carmaker has been looking to shore up its finances and secure a stronger beachhead in the world's top car market since the slump in European auto sales forced it to seek a state bailout for its finance arm in 2012.

The first scenario under consideration, and which until recently had been seen as the most likely, would have had Dongfeng and the French state each inject 1 billion euros into PSA.

The remaining 1.5 billion would be offered publicly, without the Peugeot family, which currently controls 38 percent of the votes in the company, taking part.

A new scenario, according to one of the sources, would have the Peugeot family, French state and Dongfeng each investing the same amount, with the rest of the shares offered publicly.

The source said the most likely investment amount was 500 million euros each, a figure also advanced by Le Monde which first reported on the option being considered.

After the increase they would each have a stake of 12 to 15 percent in the automaker.

Le Monde said the banks advising the carmaker believe it can place between 1.5 and 2 billions of euros of shares on the market.

Gilles Boussac (R)  CEO of Changan PSA  speaks with Thierry Peugeot (C)  chairman of the Supervisory...
Gilles Boussac (R), CEO of Changan PSA, speaks with Thierry Peugeot (C), chairman of the Supervisory Board of French auto giant PSA Peugeot Citroen and Yves Bonnefont, CEO of Citroen on December 19, 2013, in Paris
Thomas Samson, AFP/File

But the outcome of Sunday's board meeting was not certain, according to the source, with much depending on the amount to be floated publicly.

PSA hopes to be able to present the outline of a deal with Dongfeng and the French state to investors when it discloses its annual results on February 19, added the source.

The carmaker hopes the deal will be sealed before a visit by the Chinese president to France planned for the second quarter of this year.

A PSA spokesman declined to comment on the information, referring to a statement last month that the carmaker was exploring options with its partners, including Donfeng, with a capital hike one of the possibilities under consideration.

Dongfeng, for its part, has only said that it is studying the rationality of taking a stake in Peugeot.

It signed last month a $1.3 billion (960 million euro) joint venture agreement with PSA's French rival Renault that will give it a manufacturing presence in the China after a decade of not assembling vehicles there.

US company General Motors sold off its 7 percent stake in PSA last month, saying the French carmaker no longer needed its support, although their alliance in Europe is set to continue.

The news of the Sunday meeting helped Peugeot's share price, which jumped 2.2 percent to close at 11.48 euros.

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