The board of French car maker Renault on Friday voted to oust Thierry Bollore as CEO, naming the firm’s financial director Clotilde Delbos to take over his job on an interim basis.
Renault, along with alliance partner Nissan, is still reeling from the arrest in Tokyo last year of former boss Carlos Ghosn on allegations of financial misconduct, which Ghosn denies.
Bollore, who had long been Ghosn’s right-hand man, was promoted to help steady Renault this year, with Jean-Dominique Senard hired from Michelin as chairman.
“The board of directors decided to end the mandate of Mr Thierry Bolloré as chief executive officer of Renault ... with immediate effect,” the company said in a statement, adding it was launching a process to appoint a new CEO for the longer term.
It also named two deputies to back up Delbos, top sales executive Olivier Murguet and a senior manufacturing and supply chain chief, Jose-Vicente de los Mozos.
Renault shares were up 3.5 per cent following the announcement.
While Renault was expected to look at shaking up its management at some stage – Senard had a mandate to overhaul governance at the firm as well as strengthen ties with Nissan – Bollore’s fate was sealed swiftly and dramatically this week.
The executive denounced his looming exit as a “coup” in a newspaper interview on Thursday, after news that Senard was poised to trigger his departure and put it to the board had emerged in the French press on Tuesday.
It also comes hot on the heels of a top management reshuffle at alliance partner Nissan, which has also just replaced its CEO.
“The brutality and the totally unexpected character of what is happening are stupefying ... This coup de force is very worrying,” Bollore told Les Echos.
The French government – a key Renault investor, with a 15 per cent stake in the company – expressed its support for Senard after Bollore’s comments were published, saying it trusted the chairman to submit the “necessary decisions” to the board.