Corus chief Varin to head French car maker Peugeot

Updated: Apr 1 2009, 05:23am hrs
Chief Executive of steel maker Corus, Philippe Varin will take over as the chief executive officer of French car maker PSA Peugeot Citroen from June this year.

Philippe Varin, named yesterday to replace ousted PSA Peugeot Citroen CEO Christian Streiff, may seek partnerships and review product strategy at Europes second-largest carmaker after the worst auto slump in 15 years.

Varin, 56, revived Corus Group Ltd. as CEO, then sold the steelmaker to Indias Tata Steel Ltd., amid a spate of consolidation in the industry. He may face a similar challenge at Peugeot Citroen as carmakers seek deeper alliances, according to London-based Credit Suisse analyst Stuart Pearson.

He may come with a remit to work more closely with other carmakers through partnerships, Pearson said. The big question now is whether he can deliver the same kind of turnaround in a much less helpful environment.

Vehicle makers around the globe are seeking fresh ways to lower production costs and boost sales. Europes auto market just posted the biggest full-year contraction since 1993, and Streiff last month reported a 1.08 billion-euro ($1.44 billion) second-half loss. Paris-based Peugeot Citroen, Frances largest carmaker, received 3 billion euros in loans from the government to ride out the slump and save domestic jobs.

Peugeot Citroen fell as much as 1.09 cents, or 7.1%, to 14.26 euros in Paris and was 6.4% lower at 11.18 am local time as automotive stocks sagged. General Motors Corp., the biggest US carmaker, was down 13% in German trading after the resignation of its own CEO, Rick Wagoner, intensified bankruptcy concerns.