No Friends in the Renault-Nissan Alliance?

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Former Renault-Nissan Alliance director Arnaud Deboeuf is leaving Renault to chase sunnier pursuits at French rival PSA. It’s no secret that the relationship between Nissan and Renault has become severely strained, however, Deboeuf’s departure throws more light on how personal issues are impacting the broader business. He effectively blamed Renault CEO Thierry Bolloré for his leaving the alliance.

“Thierry Bolloré told me no one wanted to work with me … and that I could not go to work at Nissan either,” Deboeuf explained in a final letter to his colleges.

The note, seen by Reuters, seems to validate whispers that Deboeuf found himself at odds with Bolloré following the 2018 arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn over accusations of financial misconduct. In his absence, Deboeuf became the most senior alliance executive. According to reports, Bolloré wanted him out as numerous alliance departments were closed. Unfortunately, it was made clear to Deboeuf that heading over to Nissan was not an option — despite the Japanese automaker offering him an executive role within the company earlier this year.

He will still have a job, however. PSA confirmed his role as the industrial strategy director under Chief Executive Carlos Tavares earlier this week. Tavares served as the chief operating officer for Renault until 2013. At the time, it was rumored he had a minor falling out with Ghosn — who always seems to be at the center of everything — after suggesting he’d like to head an automaker.

Both Bolloré and Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa are former proteges of Ghosn. In his absence, the two companies have grown uneasy with each other. Leadership is said to be on the cusp of a total communications breakdown. Renault has hoped to solidify the alliance via a full merger with Nissan, a move backed by Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, but that hasn’t gone over well in Japan. Saikawa and company want more autonomy, not less.

From Reuters:

Since FCA deal talks collapsed in June, Nissan has pressed Renault to cut its 43.4 [percent] stake in the Japanese carmaker as the price of its support for a revived FCA tie-up.

Renault is refusing to consider cutting its holding below a 33 [percent] blocking minority, and no agreement is yet in sight, according to two people closely following Renault-Nissan talks on the future of the alliance.

One option being discussed is a smaller immediate stake cut and an agreed mechanism to deliver a deeper reduction in future, if key milestones are met, one of the sources told Reuters.

[Image: Gilles Lougassi/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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