Billionaire Peugeot dynasty hires new CEO to manage fortune
The billionaire Peugeot family’s holding company is undergoing a rare changing of the guard, the first in nearly two decades that comes during a broadening of their investments.
The French clan’s Etablissements Peugeot Freres, which oversees a fortune centered on the eponymous carmaker, named Nicolas Huet CEO to replace Thierry Mabille de Poncheville, who has held the job for 18 years. A lawyer by training, Huet will start Oct. 9, the firm said in a statement.
The Peugeots — who trace their empire to 1810, when an ancestor converted a windmill into a steel workshop — are among France’s most prominent industrial dynasties. While their first automobile dates back to 1889 and spawned a global manufacturer, the family started accelerating the diversification of their holdings about a decade ago. It’s now among a trio of wealthy French clans investing in Rothschild & Co. to help take the French bank private.
Etablissements Peugeot Freres, whose shareholders are all family members, underwent a reorganization of its governance under Mabille de Poncheville and a “revival” of the Peugeot brand outside of the auto sector, the company said Wednesday.
Incoming CEO Huet was previously at the Paris-based buyout firm Eurazeo, where he was a member of the executive board until a major shakeup this year. He’ll work with Chairman Frederic Banzet, a member of the Peugeot family.
Mounting losses at the automaker about a decade ago exposed deep divisions within the three branches of the family and resulted in them losing control of the company. In 2021, PSA merged with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in a deal that brought together the French clan and Italy’s Agnelli dynasty as the biggest shareholders of the combined group, Stellantis NV.
Descendants are still actively involved and make up about half of the board of Peugeot Invest, the listed investment firm headed by eighth-generation Robert Peugeot and 80% owned by Etablissements Peugeot Freres.
Peugeot Invest has holdings with a net value of about €5 billion ($5.4 billion) in a range of listed and unlisted companies, including retirement-home operator Orpea, appliance maker SEB and component producer LISI. It also has a portfolio of private equity and real estate funds. Peugeot Invest shares have gained 14% since the start of the year.
The family’s stake in Stellantis and auto parts manufacturer Forvia is held through Peugeot 1810. It also has a startup called Peugeot Freres Industrie that oversees Peugeot brand development. The name is used on products like pepper grinders, tools and luggage.