What we know about U.S. jobs and other details of Fiat Chrysler, PSA merger

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and French automaker Groupe PSA on Wednesday said their boards unanimously supported a binding agreement to merge and create the world's fourth-largest automaker.

The deal is one step further than Fiat Chrysler got earlier this year with Renault SA, another French carmaker. The combination of PSA and FCA is expected to provide cost savings, create a hedge against cyclical downturns and have the scale to invest and compete in an electric and self-driving future.

Although the companies are calling the deal a 50-50 merger, PSA would hold a board majority and appoint six of the 11 board members. That includes PSA CEO Carlos Tavares, who is expected to lead the combined company.

Here is what else to know about the deal:

Officials from Fiat Chrysler and PSA say no plants would be closed and no production jobs would be lost as a result of the merger.

What comes next?

With the binding agreement signed, the automakers can pursue obtaining antitrust and regulatory approval from the countries in which it operates. They also must receive approval from their shareholders. The process is expected to take 12 to 15 months.

"We don’t feel we have any concerns with antitrust" laws, Tavares said Wednesday. "We've reviewed this topic and are very comfortable we have no problem on antitrust" regulations.

What is the name of the new company?

The name of the new company has not yet been announced, and it unclear when one will be. Information provided to investors refers to the entity colloquially as "DutchCo," but Fiat Chrysler representatives assured that is not the official title.

Would Fiat Chrysler retain its headquarters in Auburn Hills?

The current Italian American automaker is incorporated in the Netherlands, headquartered in London and retains major operations in Auburn Hills and Turin, Italy, the home of the Fiat brand. Likewise, the combination of FCA and PSA would be domiciled in the Netherlands and continue to have operational headquarters in Auburn Hills, Paris and Turin.

That also means the center for U.S. brands such as Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups would remain in Michigan: "Brands vary based on the passion, the history, the emotion," Tavares said Wednesday. "This is why we consider the brands will stay in their country of origin. Italian brands will stay in Italy. American brands will stay in the United States. German brands will stay in Germany."

Are Fiat Chrysler employees' jobs in jeopardy?

Executives on Wednesday repeated statements from October that there would be no plant closures or loss of manufacturing jobs as a result of the transaction. United Auto Workers Vice President Cindy Estrada on Wednesday said the union hopes the combination will benefit its members and it is looking forward to hearing more details. The labor contract that UAW members ratified a week ago with FCA continues to include job security provisions in the instances of a merger, a union spokesman previously said. FCA's previously announced investments, including the construction of a new assembly plant in Detroit, will not be affected.

As for salaried employees, 20% of the expected $4.1 billion in cost savings from the combination will result from redundancies in marketing, information technology, logistics and other areas, the companies said. But Groupe PSA does not have a retail presence in North America. Most of the cuts are expected to occur in Europe where there is overlap. A regional breakdown of the savings was not available Wednesday.

What does this mean for Fiat Chrysler customers?

The combined company is expected to maintain all 13 brands that Fiat Chrysler and PSA currently operate. The companies, however, plan to shrink the number of vehicle platforms they operate. Two platforms are expected to be the basis of two-thirds of the combined entity's run for small and compact/mid-size vehicles. The convergence of these platforms could be seen starting in 20 months following the deal's closure, the executives said.

U.S. consumers could see the implementation of PSA's technology and electrification platform in Fiat Chrysler vehicles, Manley said. The combination perhaps could speed the introduction of brands like Peugeot, Citroën, Opel and Vauxhall into North America. In 2016, PSA had established a 10-year goal to re-enter the U.S. retail market.

"We see the strength of FCA in North America," Tavares said. "We have 12 months ahead of us to think what we would do after closing. So far it is premature. This is something that we will have to consider."