BRUCE GAIN

Renault-Nissan will struggle to find Ghosn's successor

Bruce Gain is an Automotive News Europe correspondent in France.Bruce Gain is an Automotive News Europe correspondent in France.
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Renault-Nissan will have a more difficult time picking CEO Carlos Ghosn's successor in the wake of the departure of Renault Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares.

Tavares was seen as the obvious candidate to handle the dual role. He was Ghosn's top lieutenant at Renault and prior to that he was the head of Nissan's North American operations.

"There are fewer and fewer people who have worked at Nissan and Renault like Tavares did," Gaetan Toulemonde, an analyst for Deutsche Bank, told me. "You need to have someone who has held [key positions] at both companies to make it work."

There is no obvious candidate in the upper ranks of the alliance with enough high-level management experience at both companies to assume Ghosn's role as CEO of both Renault and Nissan.

"Is the fact that there is no single candidate who has the necessary experience in both companies an issue that needs to be resolved?" Toulemonde said. "The answer is an obvious 'yes.'"

Renault has time to find the right person. Ghosn's contract at Renault is expected to be renewed in April 2014, giving the 59-year-old executive another four years as boss at the French automaker.

Toulemonde doubts that Renault's newly created roles of chief performance officer and a chief competitiveness officer will serve as a talent pool for Ghosn's successor.

He said the main reason for creating the new management structure was to give Ghosn more autonomy and more control.

You can reach Bruce Gain at bgain@crain.com.

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