Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

An Unexpected Exit from Renault ; Chief Operating Officer at French Carmaker May Have Detroit Ambitions

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

An Unexpected Exit from Renault ; Chief Operating Officer at French Carmaker May Have Detroit Ambitions

Article excerpt

The chief operating officer of Renault, Carlos Tavares, will leave his job in a "mutually agreed" upon departure and could be headed to Detroit.

Renault said Thursday that Carlos Tavares, the French automaker's chief operating officer, was stepping down, amid speculation that he might be headed to a top job at an American rival.

Mr. Tavares, 55, had long been seen as a possible successor to Carlos Ghosn, 59, Renault's chairman and chief executive, and is the man credited with turning around Renault's Japanese alliance partner, Nissan Motor.

Mr. Tavares leaves Renault at a time when the company, based in Boulogne-Billancourt near Paris, is struggling amid a prolonged slump in the European car market.

Mr. Tavares's departure, which Renault said had been "mutually agreed," is likely to fuel speculation that he is headed to Detroit. He could not immediately be reached for comment. But in an interview with Bloomberg News two weeks ago, Mr. Tavares suggested that such a move was in the cards, saying, "We have a big leader and he is here to stay," in a reference to Mr. Ghosn.

"Anyone who is passionate about the auto industry comes to a conclusion that there is a point where you have the energy and appetite for a No. 1 position," he said.

"My experience would be good for any car company," Bloomberg News quoted Mr. Tavares as saying. "Why not G.M.? I would be honored to lead a company like G.M."

A Renault spokeswoman, Rie Yamane, would not comment on a report in the French business newspaper Les Echos that Mr. Tavares's Bloomberg comments had prompted his ouster by Mr. Ghosn. She would say only that Mr. Tavares was leaving "in order to pursue other personal projects."

Mr. Ghosn will temporarily take over the functions of chief operating officer, Renault said. Ms. Yamane said the Renault board would meet soon to decide how to proceed, but that no date had been fixed for a meeting.

A spokesman for Mr. Tavares said he would not be available for comment. …

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