PARIS PSA Peugeot Citroen's (PEUP.PA) deputy chairman Thierry Peugeot was forced out on Thursday after voicing renewed public dissent over a French-backed tie-up with Dongfeng (0489.HK) that he had unsuccessfully opposed as chairman.
Thierry Peugeot, who had stepped down as chairman earlier this year when the carmaker sold stakes to the French state and China's Dongfeng, is leaving the board with immediate effect, the Paris-based company said in a statement.
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 announced in February, with Thierry Peugeot staying on as a deputy chairman.
But in his June 23 interview with daily 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 daily Les Echos. "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, the company said. Thierry Peugeot could not be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Laurence Frost, editing by David Evans and William Hardy)