European Commission investigates Peugeot state aid for possible antitrust violations

BRUSSELS – The European Commission says it has opened an in-depth investigation into the government-backed restructuring of France’s PSA Peugeot Citroen group to see whether it violates European Union state aid rules.

Under the plan, the French state has guaranteed 7 billion euros ($9.1 billion) in loans to Peugeot and given or advanced another 85.9 million euros directly.

The commission said in a statement Thursday it will examine whether the restructuring plan will make Peugeot viable in the long term without further state support.

It will also examine whether sacrifices offered by Peugeot in exchange for the aid are sufficient, given that firms receiving state aid have a competitive advantage over firms that don’t.

Peugeot undertook the restructuring after booking a 5 billion euro loss in 2012, as Europe’s car market cratered.