Another One Bites The Dust: PSA Fires Streiff
It’s been the weekend of the long knives for auto execs the world around. Rick Wagoner “did the right thing” and “resigned.” Meanwhile, across the frog pond, the board of French carmaker PSA had to unceremoniously fire Chief Executive, Christian Streiff, on Sunday. They replaced him with Philippe Varin, who will take up the position on June 1, Reuters writes.
The French board definitely has less of a stomach for losses than their American colleagues. Streiff was let go “after Peugeot last month posted a €343m ($460m) net loss and said it expected to stay in the red until 2010,” says Reuters. A measly three digit million number would barely register on a Detroit Richter scale. Not so in France. They want rolling heads:
“The board unanimously judged that the exceptional difficulties faced by the auto industry imposed a change of management,” Chairman Thierry Peugeot said in a statement.
Streiff said he “cannot understand the board’s decision.” (What’s so hard to understand, Christian? They don’t like you anymore.)
Streiff apparently had to clean out his desk, toss the family pictures in a cardboard box, and vacate his offices at the swank Paris PSA headquarters in a hurry. Board member Roland Vardanega will take on the role of CEO during the interim period until Varin steps in, Peugeot said.
Peugeot is number two in Europe in terms of sales behind Germany’s Volkswagen.
The Frenchman with the German name was CEO of Airbus before he took the helm of PSA in February 2007. Streiff was hospitalized at the end of May 2008 after a health incident. He returned to work in July and said at the time he had completely recovered.
According to Reuters, “Peugeot had already seen a number of other big changes in senior management, and analysts openly questioned whether people were leaving in anticipation of a merger.”
Abandon ship before a merger with whom? Fiat had been rumored a few weeks ago, but then adamantly denied any plans for a hitch-up. At the same time, a grande alliance between PSA and Renault was floated and immediately denied.
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