Renault SA Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn pledged to “restore trust” in the French carmaker following the firing of three executives falsely accused of corporate spying.
Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata, who is stepping down over the scandal once a replacement is found, remains an “asset” to the Renault-Nissan corporate alliance, Ghosn said today at the manufacturer’s annual shareholder meeting in Paris.
Renault is missing a permanent operational leader after Pelata resigned April 11 over his role in an internal espionage investigation that led to the executives’ wrongful firings in January. The company, based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne- Billancourt, is seeking to make its main carmaking business consistently profitable with targets unveiled eight weeks before Pelata’s exit was announced.
A successor will be chosen “within a timetable that is compatible with the smooth running of the company,” Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere, a board member who leads the automaker’s governance committee, told investors today.
Ghosn, who splits his time between Renault and 43.4 percent-owned Japanese affiliate Nissan Motor Co., handed day- to-day operational control of the French automaker to the COO in 2008. The French automaker has “several possible internal candidates” to replace Pelata, Ghosn said in an April 13 interview with Les Echos newspaper, without identifying them. Pelata will take a yet-to-be-defined role at the alliance with Nissan, Renault said when announcing his departure.
Renault is targeting an operating margin exceeding 5 percent of revenue by 2013, with annual deliveries of more than 3 million vehicles and 2 billion euros ($3 billion) of cumulative free cash flow. The goals, issued on Feb. 10, compare with 2.63 million deliveries and a 2.8 percent margin last year and replace targets missed in 2009, when Ghosn pledged to increase profitability to 6 percent of revenue and volume to 3.33 million autos.
Renault rose as much as 0.9 percent to 41.06 euros and was up 0.8 percent as of 4:18 p.m. in Paris trading. The stock has fallen 5.7 percent this year, the worst performance on the eight-member Bloomberg Europe Autos Index. French competitor PSA Peugeot Citroen has gained 6.9 percent in the period. Renault is 15 percent-owned by France’s government.
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