PSA names new chiefs for Citroen and DS brands

Jackson is the first woman to lead the 95-year-old Citroen brand.
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PARIS -- Citroen chief Frederic Banzet will be replaced by the brand's UK head, Linda Jackson, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen said.

In another move, Citroen strategy director Yves Bonnefont, 43, who is the brand's deputy head, will lead the upscale DS line as it separates from Citroen to become a stand-alone unit under the recovery plan unveiled by PSA CEO Carlos Tavares last month.

Jackson, 55, is the first woman to lead the 95-year-old Citroen brand, as it moves toward a more diverse top management as PSA expands outside its home region. She will replace Banzet on June 1.

Banzet is a member of the founding Peugeot family that is reducing its stake in PSA as part of a state-backed tie-up with China's Dongfeng Motor Group. Banzet will take a senior role at FFP, the publicly traded investment company belonging to the family, the company said.

Jackson’s appointment is another step in the company’s evolution away from the Peugeot family’s control.

Both Jackson and Bonnefont will sit on PSA's executive committee along with Peugeot brand chief Maxime Picat. Jackson will be the sole woman on the French company’s executive committee.

DS boss Bonnefont is a brand strategy expert.

Bonnefont, 43, began his automotive career in 1994 in production at PSA's plant in Rennes, France, and later took senior roles at management consultants Arthur Andersen and McKinsey. He rejoined PSA as group strategy director in 2012 to work on the repositioning of the Citroen and Peugeot brands, before becoming deputy Citroen CEO in April 2013.

The reshuffle comes a little more than a month after Tavares, the former No. 2 executive at Renault, succeeded PSA CEO Philippe Varin. Tavares is reorganizing the carmaker in a turnaround plan dubbed Back in the Race that focuses on differentiating the Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands while streamlining the product range to fit customer needs globally.

PSA's supervisory board appointed Louis Gallois, a former head of the corporate forerunner of Airbus Group, as its new chairman at the end of April. Gallois, a 70-year-old executive who has also run French state railway SNCF, is the carmaker’s first chairman from outside the Peugeot family.

PSA is teaming up with Dongfeng outside Europe, where demand is recovering from a two-decade low. Dongfeng, the French state and the Peugeot family will each hold a 14 percent stake in the company following a 3 billion-euro ($4.18 billion) capital increase started this month that will dilute the heirs’ holdings.

PSA reported a 177 million-euro operating loss in 2013, its second unprofitable year in a row, following a six-year contraction in Europe’s auto market. The French carmaker responded by cutting production and jobs to reduce costs while adding models such as the 2008 crossover to attract customers.

Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report

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