Sources close to the situation tell Reuters that Carlos Tavares, Carlos Ghosn’s former second in command at Renault, could start running rival PSA Peugeot Citroen as soon as March. Tavares officially joined PSA as CEO-in-waiting on Jan. 1. According to Reuters, Peugeot had previously said only that Tavares would take over sometime this year. Peugeot Chairman Thierry Peugeot told Le Figaro in an interview published over the weekend that the company’s board of directors would soon decide on the official transition date.
For the past few months, sanctions against Iran for their nuclear ambitions have sidelined PSA and Renault from the Persian market. Behind the scenes, General Motors outmaneuvered PSA despite their one-time alliance allowing them to muscle their way into aan emerging market via loophole abuse and an unknown quantity of Camaros. With GM out of the way, however, PSA would now be free to regain their footing once sanctions were lifted.
PSA won’t be alone in the upcoming battle, of course, as their compatriots at Renault have plans to return to Iran to reclaim what was lost, and then some.
General Motors sort of has a reputation for bad investments in Europe. In 2000, GM made a deal with Fiat wherein Fiat sold 20% of Fiat Auto to GM for $2.4 billion and the Italian automaker took a 6% stake in GM. GM also received a put option which in certain circumstances would have obligated the largest American car company to exercise that option and buy the rest of Fiat. In 2005, to get out of that deal, GM paid Fiat another $2 billion.
General Motors will sell off their 7 percent stake in PSA, but will continue joint developing select vehicles and technologies. In a statement, GM’s Steve Girsky said
“Our equity stake was planned to support PSA in their efforts to raise capital at the time of the creation of the GM and PSA alliance, and that support is no longer needed,” said GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. “The alliance remains strong with our focus on joint vehicle programs, cross manufacturing, purchasing, and logistics. We’re making good progress while remaining open to new opportunities.”
GM and PSA will continue to develop a small MPV type car and a small crossover, while working together on commercial vehicles.
Weeks prior to the historic deal reached between Iran and the “P5+1″ group of nations, TTAC reported on some of the machinations going on behind the scenes regarded the United States, France and their respective auto industries ability to do business in Iran. We put forth the theory that any deal with Iran would be a boon to auto manufacturers, who would have access to a market expected to be worth 1.5 million units in a few short years, with a very young population and a standard of living that is substantially better than many highly touted emerging markets.
At the time of publication, we encountered significant dismissal, if not disagreement. But as it turned out, negotiations had been ongoing since the start of 2013, and the preliminary deal appears to make the auto industry a big winner.
PSA confirmed that former Renault COO Carlos Tavares will take over the reins starting January 1st. Tavares assumes the role at a fortunate point in time for PSA: an alliance with Chinese car maker Dongfeng is underway, and Tavares’ predecessor, Philippe Varin, has already completed the difficult task of closing factories and cutting thousands of jobs, a difficult task in a country like France.
Now, Tavares will be tasked with helping PSA turn things around, with a slate of new product, a leaner organization and reorganized brand structure. Despite Varin laying much of the groundwork for a potentially revitalized PSA, Tavares could end up in the right place at the right time – able to fulfill his dream of running a car company, while presiding over a successful turnaround.
An obscure story in the Azerbaijani press this past summer may be the tip of a much larger iceberg involving General Motors, PSA Peugeot Citroen and the Western World’s current bete noir: the Iranian regime currently embroiled at the heart of a controversial nuclear program, which is subject to economic sanctions by the United States government, including those that specifically target Iran’s automotive industry.
Citing reports from Iran’s Mehr news agency, an Azerbaijani news outlet reported that an unspecified number of brand new Chevrolet Camaro RS 2LT convertibles were imported by a division of Iranian conglomerate Iran Khodro. According to the report, the Camaros were sent from Miami to Paris, and then from Paris to Tehran via a Qatar Airways plane. The report also states that US Customs and Border Patrol documents list the final destination as the Aras Free Trade and Industrial Zone.
In the wake of news that China’s Dongfeng Motors is going to take an equity stake in PSA/Peugeot Citroen, the French automaker says that it is scaling back its alliance with General Motors, which owns 7% of PSA. PSA said that a planned joint subcompact platform that was seen as the basis of the tie-up with GM will probably be cancelled. ”Further analysis showed that the business model just wasn’t there,” a PSA spokesman said. Financial statements released by PSA say that anticipated savings of $1 billion due to synergies with GM will be adjusted downward.
Emerging markets have been a big theme at TTAC for the past few years, with our coverage going beyond the cursory articles on automotive developments in the BRIC countries. Our articles on places like North Africa and Indonesia aren’t always the most popular, but we keep an eye on them for a very important reason. These countries are the final frontier for growth in the automotive sector.
Reuters is reporting that the reason behind PSA/Peugeot Citroen’s financial tie-up with China’s Dongfeng Motors was the decision of General Motors, which owns 7% of the French automaker, to scale back cooperation with Peugeot. GM also apparently rejected a PSA/Opel merger backed by the French government.
PSA/Peugeot-Citroen is negotiating with China’s Dongfeng Motor to expand their partnership in the world’s largest car market. PSA CEO Philippe Varin told reporters attending the opening of a new factory in Shenzhen, China, on Saturday that the French company is seriously considering selling equity to Dongfeng to fund expansion outside of Europe. The sale could diminish the holdings of the Peugeot family, which holds slightly more than a quarter of PSA shares, below a controlling stake in the French automaker. Earlier this year, Reuters had reported that the Peugeots were willing to relinquish control so that GM could take a larger stake in PSA, though General Motors has since indicated that they don’t plan to increase their holdings in PSA. (Read More…)
PSA, parent company of Peugeot and Citroen, is said to be exploring a partnership with China’s Dongfeng, as Peugeot looks for ways to strengthen itself amid weak sales and a perpetually sputtering European car market.