“the place of production does not matter if the model is effective” (Luca de Meo)

How to emancipate from a shareholder as cumbersome as the French state? Luca de Meo, the general manager of Renault, does not ignore it. Since his arrival at the head of the group in July 2020, the former Seat boss has continuously imposed decisions that four years ago would never have been authorized by the state, which owns 15% of the capital but 29% of the voting rights. it has a blocking right.

The Alpine A110 soon to be made in England?

Last event, the study revealed in our columns the transfer of production of the Alpine A110 to England, which would be entrusted to Lotus. “If I find a model that works, it doesn’t matter where it’s produced,” he told reporters when he received the Journal of Europe’s Man of the Year award. A sentence that would have been unimaginable a few years ago, when in 2015, the state did not fail to take 5% of the group’s capital in order to obtain dual voting rights, allowing it to veto decisions it deems contrary to the interests of the manufacturer or from France.

Renault plans to transfer Alpine A110 production to England

Luca de Meo, who acknowledges that an investigation is underway but denies having made a final decision, nevertheless recalls that he managed to save the factory in Dieppe, where an electric SUV will be installed. “With an SUV, we bring large volumes to Dieppe, which are also stable volumes over a long period of time, which is not the case with the A110,” explains Luca de Meo. The partnership with Lotus makes it possible to share investments for the development of a new generation A110. The “romance” (sic) of a 100% French car no longer comes into play.

A few days before the second round, the penalty is quite severe for the state shareholder and therefore for Emmanuel Macron who could be charged for not doing anything against this production transfer.

The first “no” from Luca de Meo, the French foundries

It is not the first time that Luca de Meo has not aligned with the interests of the French state. In the autumn of 2021, when the foundries went into receivership one after another in the commercial court, the former Seat boss was very clear: Renault will not come to their aid, despite appeals from Bercy. Without saying a Darwinist (unlike Carlos Tavares who proclaims it loud and clear), Luca de Meo calls on the sector to transform itself. “There is no need to pull out the handkerchiefs,” he had launched a bit provocatively against the car manufacturers during the sector’s second day at the end of October. An internal source recalls that in order to support certain suppliers, Renault pays its parts up to 30% more expensive compared to market prices.

Renault remains involved in France, according to Luca de Meo

When asked, Luca de Meo refutes the idea that Renault is withdrawing from France. “We are going to invest almost 9 billion euros in France by 2025,” he recalled last February when the annual results were published. “Our investments will generate an additional EUR 7 billion in GDP in France,” he also emphasized.

On the side of the French state, we defend ourselves against any interference in Renault’s strategic arbitrations. However, the group is tacitly regarded as a symbol of great French sovereignty. No question of leaving your capital uncovered. The State warns behind the scenes that it will remain a reference shareholder of Renault in order to keep the former Régie under tricolor sovereignty. At a time when Renault’s market value is collapsing (€6.5 billion this Wednesday on the Paris stock exchange), the presence of the state protects the French from speculative actions or takeover by a foreign group.