June 19, 2020 / 2:46 PM / 18 days ago

Incoming Renault CEO says he's ready for turnaround challenge

PARIS (Reuters) - Renault’s (RENA.PA) incoming Chief Executive Luca de Meo said on Friday he was confident the ailing French carmaker, which has just launched major cost cuts, could deliver a positive surprise for investors after a period of faltering sales and margins.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Renault carmaker is pictured at a dealership in Paris, France June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The former Volkswagen executive is due to take up the job on July 1, in the middle of an upheaval for the firm as it grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and reverses years of production expansion to focus on its most profitable models.

Addressing shareholders at an annual meeting, De Meo said he shared a “sense of urgency” with teams at Renault to deliver on its restructuring.

“I’ve always liked to go where there are challenges,” De Meo said, adding he was very conscious that Renault faced problems.

“I know that with everyone’s help, we can make Renault one of the best turnaround surprises in your investment portfolio.”

The coronavirus crisis has forced carmakers around the world to temporarily halt manufacturing, while dealerships also closed, compounded existing problems at Renault, which is also trying to relaunch an alliance with Japan’s Nissan (7201.T).

De Meo is expected to announce a new strategic plan by the end of the year or early next year, which would include a vision for the models Renault wants to focus on.

The Italian-born executive had to delay his arrival at Renault due to a non-compete clause in his former contract. He will work alongside the current interim CEO Clotilde Delbos and Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard.

De Meo recently asked staff to prepare him with memos on the group’s brands and their performance, people at Renault said, adding he had taken interest and been complementary about its Alpine sports car ranges for example.

Several factories in France are under review, including the one that makes Alpine vehicles in Dieppe.

Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Sarah White; Editing by Mathieu Rosemain and David Evans

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