Renault faces shareholders

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(AFP) – Bosses at French carmaker Renault were expected to face robust questioning by shareholders yesterday following the collapse of merger plans with Fiat Chrysler, and its troubled alliance with Nissan mired in fresh crisis.

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Renault has for years tied its strategy to a partnership with Japan’s Nissan but the alliance has come under unprecedented strain following the shock arrest and ouster of Carlos Ghosn, which has cost shareholders dearly.

Since the arrest in November of Mr Ghosn, who built up the alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi into the world’s top-selling auto company, shares in Renault have fallen to their lowest levels of around 55 euros ($62).

The collapse of last week’s proposed merger with Fiat Chrysler has dealt Renault a further blow.

The crisis comes as carmakers across the globe grapple with a shift to electric and hybrid vehicles, with the industry spending billions to develop cleaner technologies – without any guaranteed returns.

Some shareholders have pointed the finger at Renault’s board for not exercising enough oversight over Mr Ghosn, who is awaiting trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct at Nissan.

At the meeting, former Michelin boss Jean-Dominique Senard, who took over as Renault chairman earlier this year, will be asked to lay out his strategy for shoring up the alliance, just weeks after his plans for closer management integration were rejected by the Japanese firm.

“The board clearly failed to exercise its responsibility in the best interests of shareholders.. which allowed the eruption of the recent crisis,” said Phitrust, a Paris-based shareholder group, in a statement ahead of the meeting.

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