PARIS, March 29 (UPI) -- PSA Peugeot Citroen Sunday dismissed Christian Streiff as its chief executive, replacing him with a leading European steel industry executive, the company said.
Philippe Varin, chief executive of Corus, will succeed Streiff, whose resignation was to take effect immediately, Thierry Peugeot, chairman of the Peugeot board, announced.
"Given the extraordinary difficulties currently faced by the automotive industry, the supervisory board decided unanimously that a change in the senior leadership position was necessary," he said. "I am confident that under the leadership of Philippe Varin, the group will be able, with all the teams, to unlock its potential."
Peugeot -- Europe's second-largest automaker behind Volkswagen -- has experienced plummeting sales and mounting losses along with the rest of the auto industry. Its shares plunged almost 70 percent in the last 12 months and it reported a net loss of $456 million for 2008, The New York Times reported.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's administration last month provided almost $4 billion in aid to Peugeot, based in Paris, but Streiff encountered criticism when he announced within days of the new funding he would eliminate 3,000 job in France, the Times said.
Streiff joined Peugeot in 2006 after serving just 100 days as head of Airbus.
Peugeot executive Roland Vardanega will run the company until Varin takes over June 1, the announcement said.
The announcement came as media reports in the United States said General Motors Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner will resign immediately.