Brussels, 11 February 2013
State aid: Commission temporarily approves rescue aid for Banque PSA Finance
The European Commission has granted temporary approval to France, under the EU state aid rules, to provide Banque PSA Finance with a EUR 1.2 billion guarantee covering its market issues. The Commission’s approval is conditional on the submission during this period of a restructuring plan for the entire PSA group. This plan must also ensure the viability of Banque PSA Finance.
The guarantee will cover new bond issues by Banque PSA Finance and will therefore extend to securities issued by the bank within a period of six months from the date of the decision. These securities will constitute claims on Banque PSA Finance. The securities will mature three years after the date of issue.
The Commission felt that this guarantee was necessary in order to ensure access for Banque PSA Finance to the market and to avoid a knock-on effect on the French banking system which would have an impact on financing costs for banks. The Commission’s guidance on state aid for banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/11/1488) states that the Commission may authorise rescue aid for six months in order to preserve financial stability.
Because the aid in question will benefit not only Banque PSA Finance but the entire PSA group, France will be required to present the Commission with a restructuring plan for the PSA group as a whole, on the basis of which the Commission will be able to take a final decision on the aid.
Banque PSA Finance is wholly owned by the PSA group. It provides financing for sales of Peugeot and Citroën vehicles and finances the stocks of vehicles and spare parts for the two brands’ distribution networks. Banque PSA Finance is a ‘captive bank’ in that it finances the commercial activities of the PSA automobile group only.
Because of the problems experienced by the PSA group, Banque PSA Finance has found it impossible to refinance itself adequately. The ability of the bank to access the financial markets plays a decisive role in the PSA group’s industrial activity.
The Commission’s 2004 guidelines on rescue and restructuring aid (see IP/04/856, MEMO/04/172) specify the circumstances in which firms in difficulty can be given state aid. The guidelines require among other things that the firm must establish a sound restructuring plan that restores its long-term viability and enables it to function without continued state support. In addition, the aid recipient must take appropriate compensatory measures to minimise the distortions of competition created by the state aid and make a sufficient contribution to the costs of restructuring.