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Renault tries to leave the Carlos Ghosn era behind by hiring an outsider as CEO

Posted January 28, 2020 12:53 p.m. EST

— Renault has picked an outsider as its next CEO as the carmaker seeks to draw a line under the Carlos Ghosn scandal, address looming threats to its business and shore up an alliance with Nissan.

The French company announced Tuesday that Luca de Meo, who previously served as president of Volkswagen brand SEAT, would start as its new chief executive on July 1.

Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said the appointment marked a "decisive step for the group and for the alliance."

"Luca de Meo is a great strategist and visionary of a rapidly changing automotive world," he said in a statement.

De Meo is the second executive to lead Renault since Ghosn, its former chairman and CEO, was arrested in Japan in 2018 and then charged with financial wrongdoing while he was chairman of Nissan.

Ghosn's immediate successor at Renault, Thierry Bollore, was ousted in October in what he denounced as a "coup." Bollore, who had served as deputy to Ghosn, left the company after the collapse of a proposed merger with Fiat Chrysler in June.

Fiat Chrysler went on to join forces with Peugeot owner PSA Group instead, creating the world's third largest carmaker in a deal that highlighted the need for companies to share the cost of developing electric and autonomous vehicles. The need to invest more in new technology coincides with a global recession in car sales that shows few signs of easing.

Ghosn was a legendary force in the auto industry. He led successful turnarounds at Renault and Nissan, and was the architect of their alliance with Mitsubishi Motors.

The former auto executive shocked the world late last year when he jumped bail in Japan and fled under cover to Lebanon, where he proclaimed his innocence and blamed executives at Nissan for his arrest.

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