PARIS PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) could take over alliance partner General Motors' (GM.N) troubled Opel unit in Europe with backing from GM and the French state under an option currently being looked at, newspaper La Tribune said on Monday on its website.
GM would be prepared to contribute several billion euros to facilitate the transaction and make it attractive to Peugeot, La Tribune said, citing unnamed sources close to the matter.
"The hypothesis is being studied that PSA would take over Opel," La Tribune quoted one source as saying, adding that GM wanted to dispose of the business despite recent management comments that it was not for sale.
The French state could take a stake in Opel as part of any deal, La Tribune added.
GM and Peugeot unveiled an alliance almost a year ago aimed at saving at least $2 billion annually within five years as the carmakers struggle with a slump in demand and too much capacity in the European market.
Sources told Reuters in October the companies were exploring ways to combine European operations in a second phase of the cooperation, but talks were subsequently halted amid misgivings about the French carmaker's worsening finances and government-backed bailout.
GM said again last week that Opel was not for sale, and GM's chief executive Dan Akerson said it was cutting losses at the German-based subsidiary with a view to achieving its previously stated target of returning the unit to profit by mid-decade.
A PSA spokesman said on Monday that a purchase of Opel by Peugeot did not feature currently among the alliance plans, pointing to GM's comments that the unit was not for sale.
No immediate comment was available from the French finance ministry.
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume; Writing by James Regan; Editing by Greg Mahlich)