Valeo on Monday said chairman and chief executive officerThierry Morin had departed “as a result of strategic differences and the will of the board to change the group’s governance structure”.

Pascal Colombani is now acting chairman of the board and Jacques Aschenbroich, also now a board member, will become CEO.

Aschenbroich held several posts in the French administration and was in the cabinet of the Prime Minister in 1987 and 1988. He then moved to the Saint Gobain Group, where he managed subsidiaries in Brazil, Germany and the United States. He was president of the glass (and auto supplier) and high performance materials units and was deputy chief executive officer of the Compagnie de Saint Gobain until December 2008.

“After 20 years spent managing Valeo, we consider that Morin’s departure will open a phase of uncertainty,” a Paris-based stock trader told Reuters, adding that the move was a victory for shareholder Pardus, which owns 19.75% of the tier one supplier.

The trader also said the upheaval came at a bad time for the group, which, like rivals worldwide, has suffered as demand for new cars has plunged and auto makers have been forced to slow or stop production as the credit crunch hits consumer confidence.

In its statement, the Valeo board said Morin who, had spent 20 years with the group, including eight years as chairman, and “worked towards its development and took the appropriate decisions in time of crisis.

“In recognition of his significant contribution to the development of the group, the board conferred on him the title of honorary chairman.”

From the archive: Interview with Valeo’s Thierry Morin