Renault SA Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn agreed to make development of upscale cars for French factories a “priority” as the government steps up its influence in the wake of a botched spy investigation.
Renault, based in Boulogne-Billancourt near Paris, named Carlos Tavares as Ghosn’s deputy late yesterday. The French state, the carmaker’s biggest shareholder with a 15 percent stake, made support for the appointment conditional on strategy changes, including taking a stronger lead in its alliance with Nissan Motor Co., people familiar with the situation said.
“If it’s this hard just to get your man in place, it suggests we’ll see more, rather than less, government influence going forward,” London-based Credit Suisse analyst Erich Hauser said. France is a “relatively small shareholder with a disproportionate say over strategy, which has to be a concern for other investors.”
…Ghosn said he intends to be “more present in France from now on,” in an interview published today in French daily Le Parisien and confirmed by Renault.
In the face of such (continued) humiliation at the hands of a minority government partner, one has to admit that America’s auto bailout has been an relatively hands-off affair. Context is important after all (although to be perfectly fair, Renault did embarrass the French government with that “spy scandal”). Besides, it sounds like the brave French pols are simply out to avenge the sad death of the Vel Satis, so hey, at least the French might get the epically weird luxury sedan to end all epically weird luxury sedans out of the deal.
Renault has scheduled an extraordinary board meeting for today, Monday, French media reports. The meeting will deal with the spy scandal that turned out to be a fraud. On Sunday, France’s Journal Du Dimanche speculated that the heads of COO Patrick Pelata, legal affairs chief Christian Husson, HR chief Jean-Yves Coudriou and security chief Remi Pagnie could be on the block after they were implicated in a letter from jail, written by Dominique Gevrey. The investigator had been hired by Renault, and was subsequently arrested on suspicions of fraud. (Read More…)
The French government has its hands full pounding Gadaffi’s tanks and artillery pieces into pulp. At the same time, the French government decided not to destabilize carmaker Renault. French Industry Minister Eric Besson said the latter part when he was asked whether he’s calling for Carlos Ghosn’s head after the espionage scandal had turned into a farce.
“As industry minister, I hear the voice of the people asking for punishment, but the industry minister’s greater concern at this time is not to destabilize Renault any further,” Besson told RFI radio ( via Reuters) in an interview. (Read More…)
Ever since the Renault spy story broke, we had our doubts. It simply did not pass the smell test. Now, the smelly stuff is hitting the fan. “France faced severe political embarrassment on Friday after carmaker Renault said the three top executives it sacked for industrial espionage in January might not be spies after all,” reports Reuters.
In an interview with Le Figaro, Renault COO Patrick Pelata, the man who was the driving force behind the scandal admitted: “A number of elements lead us to doubt.” He is not alone in his doubts. (Read More…)