Peugeot CEO confident Fiat Chrysler merger is on track

By Dominique Vidalon and Gilles Guillaume
PARIS (Reuters) - PSA chief Carlos Tavares is confident that a $ 50 billion merger of the Peugeot vehicle manufacturer with Fiat Chrysler (FCA) will go as planned and synergies of at least € 3.7 billion (4th $ 2 billion).
The agreement to create the world's fourth largest automaker has become even more important because of the effects of the coronavirus crisis and accelerating cost savings, Tavares told PSA's annual general meeting on Thursday.
"The merger with FCA is the best way to deal with the crisis and its uncertainties."
Global car sales have slumped as measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic have forced production lines to close and close showrooms. Car makers have been trying to save money in the worst case in the industry since the 2008/09 financial crisis.
Tavares also downplayed the European Union's antitrust review of the proposed merger, adding that he was confident that it would be completed "at the latest" in the first quarter of 2021.
"The schedule for the merger with the FCA is strictly adhered to," he said, adding that the forecasted $ 3.7 billion synergies from the deal represent a "floor".
EU antitrust authorities launched a four-month investigation into the agreement last week, which could affect competition in vans in 14 EU countries and the UK.
The two automakers declined to make concessions to address EU concerns during their preliminary review of the deal, which has already been given the green light in the US, China, Japan and Russia.
Tavares said "the time has not come to discuss this issue" when asked if the conditions could be revised to reflect the downturn in the global auto industry, adding that the benefits of the deal will be recognized in the long term must and PSA focuses on the subject binding agreement with the FCA.
However, PSA and FCA have already revised one aspect of the merger. In May, they said they would not pay their planned ordinary dividend for the 2019 results, citing the negative impact of the pandemic.
In December, an ordinary dividend of 1.1 billion euros for FCA and PSA was announced as part of their agreement.
($ 1 = 0.8906 euros)
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Gilles Guillaume; editing by Mark Potter and Alexander Smith)

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