GENEVA, March 1 (Reuters) - Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn said on Tuesday a change of AvtoVAZ management would be “normal at a certain point in time”, adding to expectations the struggling Russian carmaker’s Chief Executive Bo Andersson may soon be replaced.
Speculation has intensified over Andersson’s future, particularly in the Russian press, since Renault announced a 225 million euro ($245 million) writedown on its 37 percent indirect stake in AvtoVAZ last month.
Speaking to reporters at the Geneva auto show, Ghosn, who heads the French carmaker and its Japanese affiliate Nissan , declined to give any assurances about Andersson’s remaining time in the job. The 60-year-old Swede’s three-year contract is up for renewal later in 2016.
“The rumours are going to continue until (a) board decision to turn the page, which is normal at a certain point in time,” Ghosn said. “Management teams come and go.”
Under Andersson, AvtoVAZ has made huge cuts to the Lada maker’s workforce and other fixed costs, as well as considerable headway in cleaning up a supplier network once rife with corruption and inefficiency.
But the Russian auto market’s recent collapse - under the weight of international sanctions, slumping oil revenues and a weak rouble - has led to deep losses at AvtoVAZ, now in need of fresh capital from Renault, Nissan and state-owned Russian defence conglomerate Rostec, a minority shareholder.
Together, Renault and Nissan have majority control of a holding company which in turn has majority control of AvtoVAZ.
Ghosn underlined that Andersson’s possible replacement should not be seen as a response to the carmaker’s financial performance in the midst of a market slump.
“It’s a tough job and nobody wants to do it for ever,” Ghosn said. “There’s a certain point in time when your mission is finished and someone has to take (over) - I just don’t want anything to be correlated to the financial results of AvtoVAZ.”
AvtoVAZ and Rostec declined to comment.
$1 = 0.9204 euros Additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov in Moscow; Writing by Laurence Frost; Editing by Mark Potter
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