French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday that the government had requested a Renault board meeting in the coming days to replace the scandal-hit corporate CEO and CEO Carlos Ghosn.
The company needed a change of government, said Le Maire in an interview with the French television channel LCI, confirming in a previous Reuters report that France wanted a new Renault leadership.
"We have to move into a new phase," the minister said.
The government, Renault's largest shareholder, publicly supported the company's decision to retain Ghosn while waiting for a lawsuit in Japan for alleged misconduct by Nissan, the partner of the French automaker, until his release had also conducted in November.
But behind the scenes, in November and December, the state was looking for candidates to replace Ghosn.
The Renault Nomination Committee is expected to meet on January 20, a source of informed knowledge, followed by a plenary meeting of the Supervisory Board, to be held on Monday under the provisional chairmanship of Philippe Lagayette.
Headhunter Korn Ferry has advised Renault management on succession issues, with Emeric Lepoutre & Partners in charge of the government.
Ghosn was charged with allegations that he had disclosed no additional compensation for the 2010/18 financial year in the amount of about 80 million US dollars, which he would have ordered later. Nissan CEO Greg Kelly and the company itself were also charged.
Both men deny that the suspension agreements were illegal or had to be disclosed, while the former alliance chief Ghosn denies a separate breach of confidence for personal investment losses, which he had temporarily transferred to Nissan in 2008.
Jean-Dominique Senard, who will soon step down as CEO of tire manufacturer Michelin, is likely to oust Ghosn in his role as chairman.
The French state and its advisors are also considering candidates for the position of CEO, which is currently being implemented by Ghosn's deputy Thierry Bollore.
Others under consideration include senior Toyota boss Didier Leroy and Elior boss Philippe Guillemot, a person involved in the discussion.
Elior has denied that Guillemot was a candidate, but he has admitted that he was considered.
Le Maire advocated Senard as a "great industrialist" when asked about his possible candidacy.
The move to replace Ghosn follows a ruling by the Tokyo court to refuse his bail request, which increases the likelihood that he will spend months in jail.
Nissan boss Hiroto Saikawa said in an interview Monday that he expects Renault to support the Japanese automaker's Ghosn defeat when his board of directors finally got full access to the results of his internal investigation.
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