Peugeot-Citroën Fires Their CEO

By Brendan Moore

03.29.2009

peugeot-logoPSA Peugeot Citroen, the second-largest auto manufacturer in Europe, fired their CEO, Christian Streiff, in a surprise move today.

Streiff was replaced by Philippe Varin, CEO of the Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus. Varin will take over on June 1.

Streiff arrived at Peugeot in 2006 from Airbus, where he had been CEO for only 100 days before his ouster.

Peugeot just notched a $460 million USD loss last month, and at the same time announced that they expect to post further losses until at least 2010.

Chairman Thierry Peugeot, of the Peugeot family (25% ownership of PSA) said in a statement, “The board unanimously judged that the exceptional difficulties faced by the auto industry imposed a change of management. I am convinced that under Philippe Varin’s leadership, the PSA Peugeot Citroen group will be able … to reveal all its potential.”

Streiff was lambasted in the French press for announcing 3000 layoffs right after the French government gave the company three billion euros. He also caught a lot of heat from the government and the media for importing Peugeots manufactured in the Czech Republic for sale in France. Additionally, he was hospitalized from the end of May until July, leading some industry analysts to question the condition of his health.

Nonetheless, Streiff quickly defended his tenure at Peugeot after his firing, saying that policies he had put into place at Peugeot had left the company well-prepared to cope with the economic downturn. He mentioned that under his leadership, Peugeot had introduced popular new models, initiated cost-cutting and effective inventory controls. “The economic and financial community hailed these results. Thus I cannot understand the board’s decision,” he added.

But Streiff’s opinion matters for nothing in this process; instead the important opinion is the one the board holds, and the board lost confidence in him, and just like a lot of other senior auto industry executives, Streiff has lost his job in this unforgiving market environment.

Board member Roland Vardanega will take on the role of interim CEO from now until Varin steps in, a Peugeot spokesman stated.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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