Louis Gallois has been chosen by the board of PSA/Peugeot-Citroen as the successor to current chairman Thierry Peugeot. The former chief executive of Airbus Group will be the first chairman outside PSA’s founding family. Gallois is described as a well-connected official with the current Socialist-led French government.
The French state is bound to acquire 14 percent stake in the carmaker. Gallois will have to use his diplomatic skills to deal with the two other main shareholders -- Dongfeng and the Peugeot family, which will also each have 14 percent stakes once the capital hike is implemented.
Gallois still needs approval from the annual shareholders meeting on April 25 before he can formally sit as board chairman, PSA said in a statement. Gallois' appointment as chairman is part of a wider governance reorganization that will see the Peugeot family’s board seats reduced to two from four.
Thierry Peugeot and cousin Robert are expected to remain on the board to represent the founding family. The French government and Dongfeng will also have two board seats each. PSA disclosed in February an agreement wherein it will sell shares to Dongfeng and the government and will be signed on March 26.
Gallois, who already sits on the board as the representative of French government, beat former Nexans CEO Gerard Hauser for the post, a source told Automotive News Europe. "His track record is quite good with regards to his performance at his former employers," remarked Sascha Gommel, an analyst at Commerzbank.
"He's well aware of the needs of PSA in terms of investing not in France, not in Europe, but rather elsewhere. He might help to get the message across to the government." "It's a very good choice, as he's always done a good job in all the positions he's had in the past,” said Florent Couvreur, an analyst at CM-CIC Securities. “Now, everybody wonders whether he will be independent or not, knowing that he's been working for state-owned or state-controlled companies his whole life."
PSA is poised to halt one of two shifts that build the Peugeot 208 at its Poissy site in France, as the French carmaker tries to trim excessive capacity. The company builds the Citroen C3 and DS3 alongside the 208 in Poissy. PSA said in December 2013 that it was launching an internal assessment to determine whether to shut down assembly lines in Poissy or at its Mulhouse plant that builds the Citroen C4, Citroen DS4 and the Peugeot 2008.
PSA has already shut down its site in Aulnay near Paris, no thanks to overcapacity. PSA chief executive Philippe Varin remarked in September 2013 that the carmaker had been considering shutting down production lines to avoid site closures.