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AUTO

Peugeot-Citroen logs stable first-half sales

France's biggest car maker CSA Peugeot Citroen logged stable worldwide sales of 1.86 million vehicles in the first half of 2011, with a weakened performance in Europe, it said on Tuesday.

Worldwide sales rose fractionally by 0.2 percent compared to the same period last year but sales were down 5.3 percent in Europe, where some governments have recently wound down trade-in schemes for old motors.

“Dragged down by the elimination of remaining scrappage incentives, traditionally strong markets for the Peugeot and Citroen brands reported weak growth or strong declines,” the firm said in a statement.

However, “global automobile markets rose by six percent in the first half of 2011,” led by demand for passenger cars in China and passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in Latin America and Russia, it added.

“In Europe, the passenger car and light commercial vehicle market declined by 0.8 percent overall, reflecting a still challenging business environment, with performances widely varying by country.”

Sales fell 25 percent in Spain and 12 percent in Italy, and grew by two percent in France and 11 percent in Germany. In Russia they soared 65.5 percent to 35,400 vehicles.

France’s second-biggest automaker Renault on Monday reported that first-half vehicle sales fell 7.4 percent in Europe but said it expected record sales worldwide thanks to booming emerging markets.

Renault’s sales rose 1.9 percent to 1.37 million vehicles worldwide, but in Europe they fell 7.4 percent to 831,700 units.

Renault said it was hoping to sell more than 2.6 million vehicles over the whole of 2011, as its international sales improved, diverging from its weaker performance in France and throughout Europe.

PSA Peugeot Citroen echoed this reliance on non-European markets.

“The Group is confirming its target of generating 50 percent of sales outside Europe in 2015,” it said.

Its executive vice president for brands, Jean-Marc Gales, said in Tuesday’s statement the company is successfully “shifting the model range mix further upmarket.”

It plans soon to launch the world’s first diesel-electric “hybrid” car, the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4, and a new version of its classic DS model, the DS5.

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INDUSTRY & TRADE

After promising to create 1,000 jobs in France… GE set to cut 1,044

US industrial conglomerate General Electric said on Tuesday that it would cut more than 1,000 jobs, mainly at its gas turbine operations in eastern France, part of a wave of European layoffs as it tries to stem losses in its power generation business.

After promising to create 1,000 jobs in France... GE set to cut 1,044
Photo: AFP
The 1,044 job cuts, long feared by unions, could become a political challenge for President Emmanuel Macron, who assured local officials this month that the government was following the matter with “the utmost vigilance”.
   
The cuts will be made mainly in Belfort, eastern France, the European headquarters for GE Energy, and in the Paris region, the company said in a statement.
   
“More than half the number of employees in the gas activities… are going to lose their jobs,” the mayor of Belfort, Damien Meslot, and other local officials said in a statement.
   
They warned of “a new hardship” for the region, which has been hit hard by the decline of mining and heavy industry over the past decades.
 
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US giant GE to pay France €50 million after creating just 25 jobs out of 1,000Photo: AFP

Overall, GE employs nearly 4,000 people in Belfort, including 1,900 in its gas turbine operations.   

The company has struggled for years with slumping demand for its gas turbines because of low oil and gas prices, and the power operations were a key factor in its massive annual loss of $22.8 billion last year.
   
In 2015 GE announced 6,500 job cuts across Europe, and two years later it revealed a further 12,000 cuts.
 
That prompted France to fine the company €50 million earlier this year, since GE had promised to create at least 1,000 new jobs when it announced the purchase of the power businesses from France's Alstom in 2014.
 
Shortly after closing that deal, GE unveiled a series of job cuts across Europe as slumping oil and gas prices crimped demand for its heavy-duty turbines and other equipment.
 
The company had already warned last year that it wouldn't meet the target, though the new CEO Larry Culp confirmed in October that GE would “fulfil its commitments.”
 
It had promised to pay €50,000 for every job not created over the three-year period.
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