Corporate Coup? Renault Officially Needs a New CEO
Renault’s board of directors met today to decide the fate of CEO Thierry Bolloré. Though we should say ex-CEO, because they fired him.
As the most recent executive to become subject to the management shakeup that’s bent on removing anyone within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance with ties to defamed founder Carlos Ghosn, Bolloré called the board’s decision surprising ( it wasn’t). Speaking with France’s Les Échos, he contended that he was more concerned with the wellbeing of Renault than corporate politics and expressed fears that the alliance could be falling apart as Japan aggressively seeks to remove more Ghosn-era hires.
“I appeal to the highest level of the State shareholder, guarantor of the rules of good governance, not to destabilize Renault, flagship of our French industry,” he said. “This coup is very disturbing, it is very important to understand the ins and outs of what is happening in Japan.”
Bolloré was selected by Ghosn as his apparent successor and, after doing time as the Renault’s COO, ended up being appointed as CEO just two months after Ghosn’s arrest in November of 2018. While there have been no formal accusations leveled against Bolloré, other high-ranking alliance members have become wrapped up in the scandal — including former Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa.
According to Bolloré, his ties to that group are the only items Renault could possibly hold against him — noting that the board had unanimously endorsed his placement as COO. He also addressed rumors that Renault’s chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, had aggressively been pressing for the ouster and was never liked him.
“I boarded a plane in Tokyo on Tuesday night and landing at 4 am in Paris on Wednesday. I learned through the press that President Jean-Dominique Senard, who until then had been saying there was not a sheet of cigarette paper between us, wanted me to leave,” Bolloré recalled. “I have always been loyal to him.”
Insider sources have confirmed Senard’s disdain was legitimate, adding that some of the company’s top brass also blamed Bolloré for declines in Renault’s financial performance. The man himself said that was ridiculous.
“This is all the more inexplicable because Renault is one of the very few car manufacturers that has not made a profit warning despite the sectoral crisis we are facing. We have anticipated on the electric vehicle [front] and will not pay penalties related to the new [emission] standards. Despite the shocks that have weakened our alliance with Nissan since last November, we have entered into strategic partnerships with Google and Waymo. And on the industrial front, Daimler-Mercedes also continues to trust us,” he said.
Renault has decided to tap Clotilde Delbos as its chief executive officer until a suitable replacement can be found. She’ll be assisted by Olivier Murguet and José-Vicente de los Mozos, who will serve as deputy directors. Of the three, Delbos is the newest to both Renault and the automotive industry. She joined the company in 2012, coming from a background in industrial finance, and will continue serving as the automaker’s chief financial officer while taking over for Bolloré.
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