Renault President Jean-Dominique Senard confirmed on Wednesday the priority given to the partnership with the Japanese car manufacturers Nissan and Mitsubishi, before the shareholders of the French group meeting in general assembly.
"There will be no success of the Renault group without success of the Alliance" with Nissan and Mitsubishi, said Mr. Senard, who recently failed to complete a marriage project with Fiat Chrysler (FCA) because reluctance from Nissan and the French state, Renault's largest shareholder.
"Today, the alliance is making a fresh start and it is and must remain more than ever both a pillar and a driving force for the development of each of its members," said Mr. Senard.
He was speaking for the first time before the general assembly at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. Sign of the interest of the shareholders, the management of the diamond group estimated the influx increased by 50% compared to last year, about 900 people. Senard received a vote of confidence, with nearly 91% of the vote at the general meeting approving his four-year appointment to Renault's board of directors.
It was the first AG since the fall of Carlos Ghosn, mired in a case of alleged malpractices in Japan. The case, which began with his arrest in Japan in November, undermined confidence in the Franco-Japanese partnership.
The action loses one third of its value
The Ghosn case will also have cost the shareholders of Renault. Since the arrest of the businessman, architect of the alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi he has risen to the forefront global automobile, the action of the French manufacturer is moving to its lowest levels, around 55 euros . In one year, the Renault stock has lost one third of its value.
Admittedly, the diamond group suffers like the whole sector of a sluggish international situation and technological upheavals that impose heavy investments in electric motorization, without guarantee of profitability.
But some shareholders criticize the directors of Renault for not having exercised their vigilance with regard to the management of Carlos Ghosn, the same criticism that Hiroto Saikawa, in delicacy at Nissan. Wednesday's meeting, however, remained very calm, with Senard being applauded several times by the public.
Read also: "Nissan: Ghosn's shot on target for next term"
Renault has recently announced that it is considering a lawsuit against Ghosn for having committed € 11 million in suspicious expenses at a joint subsidiary with Nissan, based in the Netherlands.
On Wednesday, shareholders overwhelmingly voted against granting the former CEO of his variable compensation for 2018, as requested by the Board of Directors, reducing his emoluments to his only fixed salary of € 1 million. gross.
Jean-Dominique Senard also took the floor Wednesday to explain at length the failure of the project of marriage with Fiat Chrysler (FCA) last week, project that had been announced only 11 days earlier.
The government pushes FCA
"The representatives of the state did not share (our) analysis and the vote (which would have approved the continuation of the negotiations) could not take place, which personally disappoints me", he declared, without close the door to a possible resumption of discussions with the Italian-American group.
He revealed that it was the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire who had "suggested to him a few months ago to make contact with the Fiat Chrysler leaders".
This merger, called "between equals", was to create the world number 3 of the automobile and allow Renault to put pressure on its Nissan partner, while offering opportunities for enhanced synergies.
But it failed because of a delay required by the French state, the largest shareholder of Renault, which pushed the Fiat Chrysler leaders to throw in the towel, believing that the political conditions were not met.
Tense relations with Nissan since November and the failure of this marriage raise the question of the future of Renault, a group that alone produced only 3.9 million vehicles last year and whose sales, for more than half outside of Europe, have suffered in recent months headwinds on international markets.
In 2018, the French automaker posted a net profit of 3.3 billion euros, down more than a third compared to the previous year, mainly because of Nissan's difficulties, of which Renault holds 43% of the capital. . And 2019 looks much more difficult.