BERTRAND GAY

PSA China boss Olivier next in line for CEO job

Bertrand Gay is a France-based correspondent for Automotive News Europe.Bertrand Gay is a France-based correspondent for Automotive News Europe.
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Gregoire Olivier is the front-runner to succeed Philippe Varin as CEO of PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, but don't expect the change to happen overnight.

Olivier is boss of PSA's successful China operations and has been a member of the PSA board since 2007. In July, I asked Olivier if it was true that the PSA supervisory board had already chosen a successor to Varin and that this person was already in charge at PSA.

Olivier didn't deny the accuracy of those points but he stopped short of providing confirmation. He said that he and the rest of the management board members had their contracts renewed in April for four years.

He concluded by saying: "Ask me that question again in a few years."

Varin's position appears to be strong after better-than-expected first-half financial results that have the company heading toward his goal of breaking even by 2015. That doesn't mean, however, that PSA is not looking toward the future.

Varin has the public backing of the Peugeot family but he turned 61 last month. In four years he'll be 65. Olivier will be 57. Since Olivier already oversees PSA's operations in China and Russia, maybe he won't have to wait the full four years to be CEO.

You can reach Bertrand Gay at autostratinternational@orange.fr.

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