Renault Empowers CEO de Meo as Nissan Talks Drag On
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Renault SA’s board named CEO Luca de Meo as a director and reappointed Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard for another four-year term, a sign of support for their plan to reshape the partnership with Nissan Motor Co.
De Meo, 55, will replace Frederic Mazzella on the French company’s 16-member board, the maker of Austral and Megane E-Tech cars said in a statement on Dec. 15, confirming a previous Bloomberg News report. Shareholders will have to approve the appointments at Renault’s annual general meeting, scheduled for May 11.
Senard, who was tapped by the French government to stabilize Renault after the downfall of Carlos Ghosn in late 2018, spent months reviving relations with Nissan’s board and CEO Makoto Uchida, and is now spearheading talks to reboot a two-decade alliance. Nissan, which owns 15% of Renault, has questioned the French carmaker’s future plans, which include carving out its electric-vehicle business.
The board appointment of de Meo, who arrived at Renault in July 2020, is a signal to Nissan’s leadership that the Italian-born CEO has the backing of Renault’s board as well as of the French government, people familiar with the matter said. It also validates his and Senard’s strategy of seeking a reset of the partnership, which became problematic over the years.
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Senard’s renewal is “very positive” given the role he played in leading Renault’s turnaround and improving relations between alliance partners, Oddo BHF analysts wrote in a note on Dec. 16. De Meo’s appointment should lead to “further improving communication,” they added.
The analysts noted, however, that losing an independent director is a negative for the carmaker, which has “governance weakness.”
Meanwhile, talks with Nissan are dragging on and an agreement to reboot the relationship is now unlikely to come before year-end, Bloomberg News reported on Dec. 7.
Nissan may take a 15% stake in the EV business, dubbed Ampere, as differences in views remain on the entity’s valuation, the people said. Issues around how to deal with joint intellectual property also are still unresolved, the people said.
Renault also said Dec. 16 it’s appointing Celeste Thomasson, a former Safran SA and Geodis SA executive, as chief audit and risk officer, reporting to de Meo.
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