(Clarifies in penultimate graf directors replaced on supervisory board by employee representatives)
PARIS, March 12 (Reuters) - PSA Peugeot Citroen is losing two senior members of Chief Executive Philippe Varin’s top team, presenting a further challenge to the carmaker in its efforts to reverse mounting losses.
Brands director Frederic Saint-Geours and research and development chief Guillaume Faury are both leaving Varin’s management board, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
Saint Geours, often cited in press reports as a leadership candidate for French employers’ organisation Medef, will stay on as a “special adviser”, but Faury is leaving the company to become CEO of the Eurocopter division of defence group EADS .
Peugeot described the personnel changes as a timely reshuffle. “To ensure the efficient implementation of the group’s strategy, a leaner management team has been set up around Philippe Varin,” the Paris-based company said in its statement.
Peugeot is cutting more than 10,000 jobs and closing a plant north of the French capital as it struggles to reverse auto-division losses of 1.5 billion euros ($1.95 billion) last year.
The company has also sold assets including its headquarters building and halted or slowed vehicle programmes to conserve cash.
Europe’s auto market slump is “putting extreme pressure on cost-management across the company and in particular R&D”, Faury said in a March 5 interview at the Geneva auto show.
Faury, who resigned as Eurocopter research and development chief to join Peugeot in 2009, will return as CEO on May 1, the EADS helicopter division said.
He will be replaced as Peugeot research and development chief by Gilles Le Borgne, who oversaw the design of the new mid-sized vehicle architecture underpinning a range of new models starting with the Citroen C4 Picasso to be introduced this year.
Peugeot said that two non-executive directors, Ernest-Antoine Seilliere and Joseph Toot Jr., are also standing down early and will be replaced on the supervisory board by employee representatives.
The departures leave three executives on Varin’s management board: Chief Financial Officer Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon, Shanghai-based Asia chief Gregoire Olivier and programme director Jean-Christophe Quemard. ($1 = 0.7684 euros) (Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by James Regan and David Goodman)