Renault management shake-up on the cards: source

PARIS (Reuters) – A senior management shake-up at Renault (RENA.PA) is on the cards, a source close to the French government, a major shareholder in the carmaker, said on Wednesday after a newspaper reported that CEO Thierry Bollore was set to be replaced.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of French car manufacturer Renault is seen at a dealership of the company in Bordeaux, France, June 12, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Business daily Le Figaro said Renault’s chairman was poised to kick off a process to replace Bollore, as the company tries to draw a line under an era marked by the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn.

But the source familiar with the thinking of the French government, which has a 15% stake in Renault, said Bollore’s fate had not been determined.

“The question of pursuing a full renewal of (Renault’s) management is indeed on the table,” the source said. “But nothing has been decided, and it is up to Renault to decide.”

Le Figaro said Jean-Dominique Senard, who was brought in to chair Renault this year from tyre maker Michelin (MICP.PA), could present the succession proposal at the next board meeting on Oct. 18.

Renault declined to comment.

The company, like its alliance partner Nissan Motor Co (7201.T), is still reeling from the arrest last year of Ghosn on allegations of financial misconduct, which he denies.

Bollore, long Ghosn’s right hand man, was also promoted alongside Senard to help steady Renault.

As well as stabilizing the alliance with Nissan, Senard was tasked with shaking up the Renault’s governance, which he has yet to do.

French Finance Minster Bruno Le Maire said on the sidelines of an official meeting in Luxembourg that it was not up to the state to interfere in Renault’s situation, although he said he backed any move that Senard might make.

“We have full confidence in Jean-Dominique Senard and Renault’s board to choose the best governance and people that will apply the industrial strategy that the state has defined for its technological transformation,” Le Maire said.

Any change at the top of Renault would follow hot on the heels of a management overhaul at Nissan, and could help ease tensions between the alliance partners.

The source close to the French government said Bollore’s fate was not tied to the shake-up at Nissan. “There is no kind of deal or quid pro quo,” the source said.

The Japanese carmaker named a new chief executive on Tuesday, replacing Hiroto Saikawa, who stepped down after he admitted to being improperly overpaid. Makoto Uchida, until now the head of Nissan’s China business, is known for his close ties to Renault, which has a 43.3% stake in Nissan.

Reporting by Gilles Guillaume, Michel Rose and Francesco Guarascio, Writing by Maya Nikolaeva and Sarah White; Editing by Mark Potter and Edmund Blair

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