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Peugeot Names First Woman to Run 95-Year-Old Citroen Unit

PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-largest carmaker, named the first woman to lead its 95-year-old Citroen brand, moving toward a more diverse top management as the manufacturer expands outside its home region.

Linda Jackson, who runs the division’s operations in the U.K. and Ireland, will replace Frederic Banzet as chief of Citroen on June 1, the Paris-based company said today in a statement. Jackson, who is 55 and British, will be the sole woman on the French company’s executive committee.

Peugeot also named Banzet’s deputy, Yves Bonnefont, to become head of its new DS luxury brand as of next month. Banzet will take “a senior role” at FFP, the publicly traded investment company of the Peugeot founding family, of which he’s a member, the company said.

Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares is reorganizing the carmaker in a turnaround plan dubbed Back in the Race that focuses on differentiating the Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands while streamlining the product range to fit customer needs globally. Jackson’s appointment is another step in the company’s evolution away from the Peugeot family’s control.

The supervisory board appointed Louis Gallois, a former head of the corporate forerunner of Airbus Group NV, as its new chairman at the end of April. Gallois, a 70-year-old executive who has also run French state railway SNCF, is the carmaker’s first chairman from outside the Peugeot family.

The French manufacturer is teaming up with Chinese carmaker Dongfeng Motor Corp. outside Europe, where demand is recovering from a two-decade low. Dongfeng, the French state and the Peugeot family will each hold a 14 percent stake in the company following a 3 billion-euro ($4.18 billion) capital increase started this month that will dilute the heirs’ holdings.

Peugeot reported a 177 million-euro operating loss in 2013, its second unprofitable year in a row, following a six-year contraction in Europe’s auto market. The French carmaker responded by cutting production and jobs to reduce costs while adding models such as the 2008 crossover to attract customers.

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