Peugeot Citroën South Africa has announced that Japan-based company VT Holdings has purchased a majority stake in its struggling local operations, meaning that it is no longer a wholly owned subsidiary of the PSA Group.

VT Holdings, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock exchange, has been in the automobile industry for some 34 years, distributing vehicles in five countries.

The holding company officially acquired a 51% stake on June 1, with Peugeot Citroën South Africa saying the joint venture "allows the Peugeot brand to strengthen its position in South Africa through an upgrade of the entire value chain".

In addition, Francisco Gaie has been appointed as the new managing director of Peugeot Citroën SA, replacing Francis Harnie, who has returned to Europe after six years at the helm.

"It is time to move forward in creating a new and exciting vision, one that produces even greater opportunities to our employees, dealers and most importantly to our customers," said Gaie.

"We have new developments planned around products, aftersales and parts which we are confident will result in greater efficiencies, increase our market share and strengthen our position in the South African market place," he added.

So, what is behind the decision? Well, Peugeot Citroën SA, which ceased sales of Citroën products locally in December 2016, told us that it needed to make its organisation "more efficient".

"In South Africa, PSA Group made a deliberate choice, in order to grasp a business opportunity to optimise its development with VT Holdings as a partner.

"We felt it was important to adapt our organisation to the specific requirements of local markets and VT Holdings have an extensive experience in distribution which is more agile, better able to contribute, adapt and ensure the profitability of our investment," the company said.

What this will mean for Opel, which has been bought by the PSA Group, remains to be seen.