PARIS – French auto giant Renault’s board on Thursday backed a new four-year term for chief executive Carlos Ghosn and set up his succession by naming a number two.
“The board decided to propose to renew the mandate of Mr. Carlos Ghosn which will be put before the general assembly of shareholders on June 15,” the company said in a statement.
However, Ghosn agreed to a 30 percent pay cut in line with government demands, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told AFP.
“Now we have the best conditions to prepare for the upcoming general assembly” in June, he added.
Renault praised the “exceptional results” at the alliance of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi under the Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese origin.
The carmaker is due to report earnings on Friday with analysts expecting net profit to soar to €4.3 billion ($5.4 billion) from the €3.5 billion it earned in 2016.
The board “renewed its full confidence” in chairman and chief executive Ghosn, who took over at Renault in 2005, setting out three priorities for the next four years.
Ghosn was tasked with piloting the “Drive the Future” plan aimed at reaching turnover of €70 billion in 2022 compared with more than €50 billion in 2016.
He was also urged “to strengthen the succession plan at the top of Renault Group.”
The French government did not hide its wish for a Frenchman to be groomed to take over from Ghosn, who will be 64 in March, and supported Thierry Bollore for the job.
Bollore, who joined Renault in 2012, would become deputy chief executive on Friday, Renault said.
The 54-year-old has worked extensively in Asia as well as for tire manufacturer Michelin.
Among a handful of foreign-born CEOs at Japanese firms, Ghosn earned the nickname Le Cost Killer for his aggressive restructuring at Renault and later the nearly-bankrupt Nissan in the late 1990s.
Renault holds 43.4 percent of Nissan, while Nissan holds 15 percent of Renault and 34 percent of Mitsubishi, where it is the top shareholder.
The French state owns 15.01 percent of Renault.
Ghosn handed over the chief executive reins at Nissan last year but stayed on as chairman, in large part to focus more on turning around Mitsubishi, where he is also chairman.
The entire Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance took the mantle of top-selling carmaker last year with 10.6 million vehicles worldwide.
In an interview with AFP, Ghosn said it was “too early to say” how the alliance must evolve to be long-lasting.
“We all agree that the alliance is a good thing that benefits each of the companies that compose it, so we must ensure its sustainability.”
He added: “We need to continue the convergence between the three companies while leaving each one of them quite independent in their markets, and each one in its country and in its culture.”