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Peugeot appoints first non-family chairman

French family firm PSA Peugeot Citroen has appointed its first non-family chairman, following the announcement of its recapitalisation last month, but there could be future family-member leaders waiting in the wings, according to a business and corporate governance expert based in France.

Last week, the carmaking firm confirmed French civil servant Louis Gallois would be its new chairman, and the family’s board presence would halve to two voting members, due to the family diluting its share in the family business.

In February, Peugeot announced it had signed a deal to receive a €1.6 billion cash injection from the French government and Chinese state-controlled car company Dongfeng. Each of the three main shareholders will have a 14% stake in the business.

The remaining family members on the board will be outgoing chairman Thierry Peugeot and his cousin Robert Peugeot. Marie-Helene, Peugeot's sister, will leave the board, while another cousin, Jean-Philippe Peugeot will have a non-voting role.

In total, the supervisory board will include eight members: two from each of the key shareholders and two members representing employees and shareholder employees respectively.

Ludo Van der Heyden, Mubadala professor of corporate governance and strategy at Insead and director of the business school’s Corporate Governance Initiative, said the incoming Gallois – the French government’s preferred candidate – was a good choice with a “stellar” record as a businessman and board member.

But he said Peugeot would not necessarily be the last family member to chair the company, saying Robert Peugeot, 63, who is also head of the family office, could be a potential future candidate.

Shareholders will vote on the proposed changes at the company’s annual meeting on 25 April.

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