Sunday was the day of reckoning for CEOs who have failed to meet lofty expectations. On the same day that the Obama administration in the U.S. ousted GM CEO and Chairman Rick Wagoner, the board of French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen fired CEO Christian Streiff.
“The board unanimously judged that the exceptional difficulties faced by the auto industry imposed a change of management,” said Chairman Thierry Peugeot.
Streiff will be replaced by Philippe Varin, who worked for French aluminum producer for 25 years before heading over to steel group Corus, which he helped recover from a period of losses. Varin will begin working for Peugeot on June 1st; board member Roland Vardanega will act as CEO in the interim.
“I am convinced that under Philippe Varin’s leadership, the PSA Peugeot Citroen group will be able… to reveal all its potential,” said the chairman.
Streiff defended his actions as CEO, saying that his policies – including cost-cutting, inventory reductions, and several new model launches – had allowed the group to be “well-equipped to face the crisis.”
“The economic and financial community hailed these results. Thus I cannot understand the board’s decision,” he said.
Streiff was hospitalized in May 2008, and many analysts have speculated that his health was the source of confusion over Peugeot’s uncertain plans for dealing with the economic crisis.