Thierry Peugeot to leave PSA board after voicing dissent over capital tie-up with China's Dongfeng

Thierry Peugeot, pictured, sought to keep intact the Peugeot's family control of PSA.

Photo credit: Reuters
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PARIS (Reuters) -- PSA/Peugeot-Citroen's deputy chairman, Thierry Peugeot, was forced out after voicing renewed public dissent over the automaker's capital tie-up with Dongfeng Motor and the French government.

Thierry Peugeot is leaving the board with immediate effect, PSA said in a statement on Thursday.

Thierry had stepped down as chairman earlier this year when PSA sold stakes to the French state and Dongfeng.

His abrupt exit is the direct result of a press interview in which he broke ranks to criticize the terms of the deal, two people familiar with the matter said.

French industrialist Louis Gallois took over as chairman after the founding Peugeot clan ceded control of the 200-year-old industrial group in a 3 billion euro ($4.1 billion) capital increase, with Thierry Peugeot staying on as a deputy chairman.

But in his June 23 interview with the daily newspaper Les Echos, Thierry Peugeot expressed dissatisfaction with the government's involvement in the bailout, which left the family's holding on a par with the 14.1 percent stakes sold to France and Dongfeng. "There were clearly other options available," he told the paper. "The market component could have been larger."

Asked for his views of the French government's role, Thierry Peugeot replied: "I'm a liberal, moral capitalist and a defender of free enterprise. When the state buys into the company for the first time in 200 years it necessarily poses questions."

His departure was decided at a board meeting on Tuesday, one of the sources said. "The Peugeot family decided it would no longer be represented by Thierry Peugeot on the PSA board."

Marie-Helene Roncoroni, the former chairman's sister, will replace him as deputy chairman, PSA said. Thierry Peugeot could not be reached for comment.

Thierry Peugeot favored PSA raising new funds by selling shares on the market, Les Echos reported earlier this year.

ISI Group analyst Arndt Ellinghorst less family influence must be a good thing for PSA, especially after the very pubic disagreement between Thierry and his cousin Robert Peugeot over the necessity of a deal with Dongfeng and the French government.

"But seeing Mr Peugeot replaced by his sister certainly does little to convey the message of less family influence or indeed of a uniform view about how to run the business," Ellinghorst said in an email.

He said the key issues were whether Thierry Peugeot's departure means that all stakeholders in PSA are operating under fully aligned interests to achieve the automaker's turnaround under new CEO Carlos Tavares.

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