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Renault reports first loss in a decade

By Charlotte Ricca

Net income fell from €3.5bn in 2018 to €19m last year

Renault has posted its first loss in a decade, as it struggles to distance itself from the Nissan scandal involving its former boss Carlos Ghosn, who fled from Japan to Lebanon following his arrest for under-reporting earnings and misuse of company assets.

French car company Renault, which has also been hit by charges relating to joint ventures in China, posted a loss of €141m (£117.1m, $152.87m) in 2019.

Net income fell from €3.5bn in 2018 to €19m last year, while sales fell 3 per cent to €55.5bn.

Nissan, in which Renault has a 43 per cent stake, also suffered its first quarterly loss in nearly 10 years and cut its operating profit forecast.

As a result, Renault set a 2020 operating margin target of between 3 per cent and 4 per cent, down from 4.8 per cent in 2019. It also slashed its proposed dividend by almost 70 per cent from 2018.

Renault executives have said the Nissan alliance is on track.

Acting chief executive Clotilde Delbos told a conference call: "It has been a tough year for Groupe Renault and the alliance,” and admitted the downturn in the automobile market hit the company “right when we were facing internal difficulties”.

Delbos took over as a temporary CEO after Thierry Bollore was sacked in October, due to his close allegiance to Ghosn. Luca de Meo, the former head of Volkswagen’s Seat brand, will take over from Delbos as CEO in July.

In addition to the scandal surrounding former Nissan boss Ghosn, Renault was forced to write off €300m from Chinese operations over the year, due to a falling demand for cars there.

Renault has also been hit by the coronavirus crisis in China, as its factory in Wuhan has been on lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

FURTHER READING: Renault and Nissan deny break-up is coming

FURTHER READING: Nissan shares fall by more than 10 per cent

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