earnings reports

Renault hit by historic loss as painful choices loom

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse
Renault hit by historic loss as painful choices loom

(FILES) This file photo taken on June 3, 2020 shows the Renault logo at the entrance of the plant of the French carmaker in Choisy-le-Roi, near Paris, during a protest against the compagny's cost-cutting plan. - French carmaker Renault suffered the heaviest net loss in its history in the first half of the year, at 7.3 million euros, due to Nissan turmoil and the COVID-19 pandemic, it announced on July 30 in a press release. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)

Renault reports a net loss of 7.3 billion euros ($8.6 billion) in January-June 2020, its biggest half-year loss ever

French automaker Renault reported its biggest half-year loss ever on Thursday, July 30, with revenue slashed by a third as dealerships worldwide were emptied by the coronavirus crisis.

The dire results underscored the challenges facing chief executive officer Luca de Meo, who was brought in this month to revamp a company reeling from strategic missteps and the ousting of former boss Carlos Ghosn last year on financial misconduct charges.

Net losses reached 7.3 billion euros ($8.6 billion), compared with a profit of 970 million euros in the same period last year.

More than half the loss was due to Renault’s 43% stake in its Japanese partner Nissan, which also reported this week a huge hit from the COVID-19 pandemic that has battered the global economy.

Revenues plunged 34% to 18.4 billion euros as demand withered for nearly all its brands in all its markets, including the low-cost Dacia models that have been hugely successful in recent years.

The company has warned overcapacity will require it to close or restructure 4 production sites in France and cut 15,000 jobs worldwide, and last month it secured a 5-billion-euro emergency loan backed by the French government.

“Although the situation is unprecedented, it is not final,” De Meo, a former top Volkswagen executive, said in a statement, confirming that Renault would cut costs by 600 million euros this year, a third of the total targeted by 2022.

The half-year loss follows the first annual loss in Renault’s history last year, when it was rocked by Ghosn’s 2018 arrest in Tokyo on suspicions he underreported his income while chairman at Nissan.

He denied the charges and later escaped to Lebanon to avoid “persecution” by Japanese prosecutors, but his downfall proved disastrous for a company that, together with Nissan and its other alliance partner Mitsubishi, was briefly the world’s biggest seller by volumes, ahead of Toyota and Volkswagen.

“We’re currently touching the bottom of a negative curb that started several years ago,” De Meo said in a conference call with analysts on Thursday, adding he would lay out his recovery plan by January.

“We know what we have to do…. We will move the whole system from volume to value,” he said, adding that “a lot will happen in this house in the next 6 months.”

The French state, which owns 15% of Renault, has promised an 8-billion-euro plan to revive France’s auto industry by making it the European leader in electric cars, including subsidies for new car purchases. – Rappler.com