With Carlos Ghosn unlikely to be released from Japanese custody, where he has been held since Nov. 19, any time soon, Renault appears to be ready to follow Nissan's lead and remove him from his leadership posts at the automaker.
According to reports, Renault's board of directors has engaged two executive search firms to find permanent replacements for Ghosn, who holds the dual roles of CEO and chairman. That news follows an editorial on Monday in the influential newspaper Le Monde calling for a change at Renault.
"Renault must quickly restore order in its governance before it is too late to save an alliance that is weakening day by day," Le Monde wrote. "The first step must be to remove Mr. Ghosn from his position as CEO, which he can no longer objectively occupy."
Given that urgency, it would be tempting for Renault to move quickly, perhaps giving temporary co-CEO Thierry Bollore the job permanently and naming outgoing Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard as chairman, a possibility that has been floated in the news media. Other prominent candidates include Didier Leroy, an executive vice president at Toyota, and Philippe Guillemot of Elior Group, a food-service conglomerate.
Yet that could be short-sighted, said Rich Kolpasky, a managing director at the search firm Stanton Chase, who specializes in the automotive and industrial sectors.
"This is one of the premier industrial roles in the world, not just in automotive. You have to get this right," Kolpasky said, "and going with the one or two people who are obvious fits without looking at it more broadly could be a mistake. It warrants investing the time."