(Updates with Peugeot confirmation, other board names, dates)
By Laurence Frost and Gilles Guillaume
PARIS, March 19 PSA Peugeot Citroen's
board confirmed the appointment of French civil servant Louis
Gallois as its next chairman on Wednesday as the carmaker
prepares for a 3 billion euro ($4.2 billion) tie-up with China's
Dongfeng Motor Group.
Gallois won the board's endorsement to replace Chairman
Thierry Peugeot after the founding Peugeot family agreed to
support the French government's choice of candidate.
The French government had already flagged the move late on
Tuesday. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's office said in a
statement Gallois' experience and talent would be "an asset for
PSA, which will need exemplary governance over the next few
Paris-based Peugeot last month announced a rescue deal in
which it will sell shares to Dongfeng and the French government,
reducing the family's stake to match their equal holdings of
about 14 percent.
The family will see its board presence halved to two full
members, outgoing chairman Thierry and cousin Robert Peugeot.
Thierry's sister Marie-Helene will leave the board, while
another Peugeot cousin, Jean-Philippe, remains as a non-voting
Dongfeng's board members will be Xu Ping et Liu Weidong,
respectively the Chinese group's chairman and deputy general
manager, Peugeot said.
Former Renault executive Carlos Tavares is taking
over as chief executive from Philippe Varin later this month.
The change of chairman is also part of the deal's terms.
"We've long been critical of the family's involvement in the
business," London-based ISI Group analyst Erich Hauser said
after the Peugeot announcement. "As such seeing the family lose
influence over the board as a step in the right direction."
From here on, Hauser added, "the big question is whether
three equally large shareholders will find it easier to control
Peugeot than one family did."
Gallois, France's investment commissioner who previously
headed the SNCF state railway and defence group EADS,
prevailed over former Nexans boss Gerard Hauser, the
Peugeot clan's initial choice, according to sources familiar
with the discussions.
As Le Figaro first reported last week, however, the family
agreed to back Gallois over Hauser, a former board member at
Peugeot-controlled Faurecia, after meetings with
Gallois has served on the Peugeot board since late 2012,
when his appointment as a nominal independent was imposed on the
company by President Francois Hollande's Socialist government in
return for 7 billion euros in state loan guarantees.
His nomination will be submitted for formal approval by the
new board, and by the Peugeot shareholder meeting, which is
being brought forward to April 25 from April 30.
The agreement underpinning Peugeot's capital increase and
tie-up with Dongfeng is due to be finalised on April 26, during
a visit to Paris by Chinese President Xi Jinping next week.
(Additional reporting by Julien Ponthus and Dominique Vidalon;
Editing by Andrew Callus and Louise Heavens)