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Nissan Americas’ Tavares Named New Renault COO in Wake of Spy Scandal

Renault’s gain could be Nissan’s loss.

by on May.31, 2011

Nissan Americas CEO Carlos Tavares - shown here with the Leaf battery car - will become Renault's new COO.

Carlos Tavares, the chief executive of Nissan Americas, will be heading across the Atlantic to serve as the new chief operating officer of the Japanese maker’s French affiliate, Renault.

The new assignment comes as Renault struggles to shake off the scandal that followed the firing of three senior executives falsely accused of spying for the Chinese.  That brouhaha led to a shake-up of Renault’s top management, including the ouster of COO Patrick Pelata.

The decision to move Tavares back to France has been widely expected, first reporting on it more than six weeks ago.  It’s a homecoming of sorts, Tavares having spent 23 years with the French carmaker before being assigned to the U.S. in 2004.

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The move comes at a critical time for Renault, which had been struggling to regain traction in the European market – and grow its overseas base, especially in China – even before the espionage scandal.  The loss of Pelata threatened to leave a significant void in the carmaker’s senior ranks as the former COO was considered a close confidant and ally to Carlos Ghosn, who serves as chief executive officer for both Renault and Nissan.

In a statement, Ghosn described Taveres’ appointment as “a first step in strengthening Renault’s management.” But his reassignment could be “a significant loss” for Nissan Americas, cautions Deutsche Bank’s Kurt Sanger.


Renault’s #2 Resigns in Spy Scandal

Pelata, four others ousted but CEO Ghosn survives purge.

by on Apr.12, 2011

Renault COO Patrick Pelata resigns.

Renault’s second-in-command is stepping down, as are four other senior executives implicated in a spy scandal that has shaken up the French automaker – but CEO Carlos Ghosn has apparently been spared in a purge ordered by the maker’s largest shareholder, the French government.

Patrick Pelata will leave his post as Renault’s chief operating officer, though take on a more modest role with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the maker’s partnership with Japan’s second-largest automaker.  CEO Ghosn originally had refused to accept Pelata’s resignation but his second-in-command was forced out after French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said those responsible for a messy spy scandal “must depart.”

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The crisis was kicked off, early this year, when Renault ousted three senior executives involved with its aggressive electric vehicle program.  An anonymous source had claimed they were being paid to leak critical information to the Chinese.  But, after an investigation by French intelligence, it turned out the three executives were themselves victims of an attempted shakedown by members of Renault’s own security department.